Total knee replacement (or total knee arthroplasty (TKA)) surgery is a very successful way to relieve chronic knee pain. This type of surgery has a very high success rate for relieving pain once the patient has completely recovered; 90 percent of patients reported a dramatic improvement in their pain levels after surgery. Initial recover with physical therapy can be achieved within 12 weeks, with complete recovery within one year. Half of the people who undergo knee replacement surgery are under the age of 65 and a 2013 study by the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS) and health economists reports there are over 600,000 of these surgeries performed each year in the United States.
Why Consider Knee Replacement Surgery?
Knee replacement surgery should be considered after medications and physical therapy alone have not given you relief from knee pain. You may have suffered an injury as a child, developed osteoarthritis in your knee joints, or age and stress may have broken down the cartilage and tendons in your knee. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) reports nearly half of American adults develop osteoarthritis in their knees as they age. This condition can cause pain, grinding, and severely hinder your normal activities as the condition progresses. No matter what your reasons may be, an orthopedic surgeon can help you weight the risks and benefits of knee replacement surgery.
Importance of Physical Therapy after Surgery
Right after surgery you may experience pain from the muscles and ligaments that were disturbed during surgery. This pain can be quite intense, but if you follow through with the exercises and physical therapy prescribed by your surgeon you will start to see a dramatic improvement within just 12 weeks after surgery. It is essential you keep up with physical therapy to build muscles, strengthen tendons, and help your knee to heal.
Physical therapy can be painful, and at first you may want to give up. But if you can withstand the first couple of weeks you will start to see an improvement in your pain levels and mobility. Physical therapy will help you reclaim your life and help you return to your former activity levels. While people that are obese do have a longer recovery time and you can avoid this by losing weight before your surgery (some surgeons refuse to operate on very obese patients because of the risk of infection and surgical complications).
If you are considering knee replacement surgery consult with an orthopedic surgeon. Realize that surgery is the first step in helping you regain your life. Physical therapy is the next step, and no matter how hard it may be if you stick with it, you will be able to walk and return to normal activities in just a few months.