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    Knee Replacement Surgery

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is an artificial joint?

    An artificial knee replaces a deteriorated knee. In a knee component, the deteriorated portion of the femur (thigh bone) and tibia are removed, and the two ends of the knee are capped with metal replacements. Polyethylene is placed between those two caps, which move the same as a natural knee. Joint replacement procedures are generally performed to address persistent pain that is not alleviated by non-surgical methods, such as pain medication.
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    How do I know if it’s the right time to have total knee replacement surgery?

    It is a personal decision to have total knee replacement. However, if you are unable to perform daily activities due to pain or decreased mobility, it may be a good time to consider total knee replacement surgery. Most patients decide on joint replacement when they are unable to perform normal activities of daily life without pain.
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    Can I wait to have total knee replacement? If I wait, will I be unable to have the surgery at a later date?

    You can wait to have total knee replacement until a later date, and waiting will not impact your ability to have the surgery in the future. The inactivity produced by pain usually prevents aggressive degeneration of your joint. You may want to consider joint replacement when your activity level starts to decline to the point where it affects your general health.
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    Am I too old to have replacement surgery?

    Age is not a factor in knee replacement surgery. The purpose of the surgery is to relieve pain and return you to an active, normal life. If you are suffering from pain that decreases your quality of life and it is determined that the joint replacement can be safely performed, then you are a candidate for the surgery.
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    Should I have physical therapy before surgery?

    Physical therapy is not necessary before joint replacement surgery, but many people find it helpful. You may begin standard knee exercises or consult a physical therapist.
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    What are the risks of total knee replacement surgery?

    The primary risks of joint replacement surgery are blood clots and infection. Blood thinners are used after surgery to reduce the risk of blood clots and antibiotics are given to prevent infection.
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    What type of prosthesis is right for me?

    The best person to make this decision is your surgeon. Most orthopedic surgeons prefer a non-cemented acetabulum. The decision to have a cemented or non-cemented femoral component depends on the patient’s age, weight and medical condition. The choice of bearing surfaces are metal on polyethylene, metal on metal, ceramic on polyethylene or ceramic on ceramic.
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    Do I have to modify my movement? Can I perform daily activities, such as dressing myself?

    You should avoid squatting and follow general movement precautions advised by your surgeon and physical therapist.
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    How long will my joint replacement last?

    Your knee replacement is expected to last between 15 and 20 years. For younger patients, this time may be reduced. We are unable to guarantee the longevity of the replacement, but are hopeful that today’s components will last up to 20 years.
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    Why do knee replacements fail?

    The primary reason for loosening of the knee replacement a process called osteolysis. Wear on the bearing surfaces, primarily the plastic, creates particles. In an attempt to remove the particles, the body tries to digest them. In doing so, it loosens the bond between the implant and the bone. This is a gradual process that may occur over decades.
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    Do I need to give blood?

    You may donate your own blood if you wish if you do not want to use blood from another donor.
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    How long will the operation take?

    The actual knee replacement operation will last from 60 to 90 minutes. The length of the surgery will depend on the complexity of the individual case, as well as the size of the patient. Larger patients with more complex knee problems will require a longer operation. The actual time in the operating room is usually two to three hours, including time for anesthesia, positioning, draping, surgery, placing bandages, waking the patient up and transporting the patient to the recovery room.
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    How long will I be in the hospital?

    Your stay in the hospital may be from two to four days; the average stay is close to three days. Your discharge from the hospital depends on your ability to eat, control your pain and your progress with physical and occupational therapy.
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    Where will I go after I am discharged from the hospital? What if I live alone?

    Some patients go home after they leave the hospital and some go to rehabilitation facilities called skilled nursing facilities. Where you go for recuperation depends on your age and physical and medical condition. If you live alone, it is important to prepare your home for your return before you leave for the hospital and make transportation arrangements. Many individuals who live alone prefer to recuperate at a skilled nursing facility for a week following the surgery.
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    Will I need help at home?

    If you are going home right after surgery, you may require some help with meal preparation and daily activities, such as getting in and out of a chair for the first few days. You should prepare your home for your return before you leave for the hospital, including cleaning the house, doing any necessary chores and washing laundry. You may seek the help of a home health agency. Your physical and occupational therapists will come to your home up to three times per week for the first couple of weeks following surgery.
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    When will I walk again, and do I have to use assistance devices such as a walker or cane?

    You will begin walking again immediately following your surgery according to your physical therapy plan, and may use a walker or cane for assistance.
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    When can I drive?

    You may begin driving again four to six weeks after your surgery.
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    When can I play golf?

    You may play golf four to six weeks after your surgery.
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    When can I have sexual intercourse?

    You may have sexual intercourse four to six weeks after your surgery.
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    How long do I have to follow total knee precautions?

    You need to follow the total knee precautions discussed by your surgeon and physical therapist for at least six weeks following surgery or until your physician instructs otherwise.
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    Do I need to purchase any special equipment for my home, such as handrails, an elevated toilet seat or shower seat?

    Your occupational therapist will order the elevated toilet seat and any other adaptive equipment you may need prior to your discharge from the hospital.
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    Are there any exercises I can perform on my own to gain strength and mobility?

    In general, walking helps build strength, as do abduction and forward flexion exercises. Your physical therapist will prescribe exercises you can perform at home to gain strength and mobility.
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    How do I know if my knee component is loosening or there is a problem?

    If you experience persistent pain or weakening, your knee replacement may be loose. Please contact your doctor immediately.
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    Why does my knee make a clicking sound when I bend it?

    Your knee is a mechanical device and may make a clicking sound or other noises.
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    Do I need to continue taking my pain medications?

    Your physician may begin reducing your pain medications six to 12 weeks following surgery. You may still require pain medication during physical therapy. It is important to have good pain control during therapy to make sure you get the most out of the rehabilitative exercises.
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