Before a patient decides to undergo any type of surgical procedure, it is critical that all questions are answered and risk factors addressed. A total knee replacement can be a drastic decision to make, but if the patient is a good candidate, this type of treatment option can greatly improve pain, mobility, and quality of life. It is important to note that not everyone is a good candidate for a total knee replacement. The simplest way to determine your status is to speak with your doctor.
Factors to consider before a total knee replacement
- Age: Most surgeons recommend total knee replacements for patients 55–70 years of age. The younger you are when you receive a total knee replacement, the more likely the prosthesis will wear down.
- Degree of knee pain and immobility: If knee pain and immobility are severe, and the patient does not seem to respond to more conservative treatment methods, the surgeon may decide that a total replacement is the best option.
- Existing damage to knee and tissues: An x-ray and/or MRI will give the medical team a much better idea of the amount of existing damage to the knee and where the degradation may stem from.
- Other conditions causing the knee pain: Before making the decision to have a total knee replacement, the surgeon will want to rule out any other possible conditions that may cause the knee pain and loss of function.
The recovery process after a total knee replacement
- Following a total knee replacement, the patient may begin working with a physical therapist as soon as possible to begin strengthening the knee. It is important to keep the leg, knee, and foot moving to prevent excessive swelling and clotting.
- Within a day or two, the patient may begin to stand and walk under supervision.
- Within the next several weeks to a month, the patient may perform light exercises as instructed by the physical therapist.
Charles Marshall, M.D.
Jordan Valley Medical Center