Total knee replacement FAQ

Common questions after a total knee replacement.

Total knee replacement FAQ

How long does a knee replacement last? How long do knee replacement last? How long does knee replacement last?

Knee replacement surgery is a technique that aims to greatly enhance the quality of life for patients suffering from intense knee pain and limited mobility. Due to continuous progress in surgical techniques and the innovation of high-quality prosthetic materials, the longevity of knee replacements has significantly improved over the years. Based on data from the Australian Joint Registry, over 85% of knee replacements maintain their functionality and remain in good condition even after 23 years since the surgery.

Nevertheless, the durability of a knee replacement is not exclusively determined by the surgical technique and materials employed; the lifestyle and behaviour of the patient also play a pivotal influence. The longevity of the implant can be considerably influenced by factors such as activity levels, body weight, and the patient’s adherence to post-operative care and rehabilitation instructions. For example, a younger individual who is highly active and involved in physically demanding employment and regular weekend activities may experience accelerated deterioration of their knee replacement compared to an older individual who leads a more inactive lifestyle.

It is crucial to achieve a harmonious equilibrium between engaging in physical activity to preserve the well-being of the joints and refraining from activities that may hasten the deterioration of the implant. 

How long does knee replacement surgery take? How long is knee replacement surgery?

Knee replacement surgery is an important medical operation that aims to reduce pain and improve mobility in those with severe knee damage, often caused by arthritis or injury. A common enquiry among individuals receiving this revolutionary operation pertains to its duration. The usual duration of knee replacement surgery is typically between 1 to 1.5 hours. Nevertheless, the length of time can differ depending on the complexity of each case, which may involve the use of robotic help during the procedure.

A crucial aspect of the process involves the administration of anaesthesia when a minute needle is placed into the patient’s arm to deliver medication. During this stage, a spinal anaesthetic and a femoral nerve block are administered, which are both essential for effectively managing post-operative pain. Patients must understand that although the surgical operation typically takes about an hour, the full process, including pre-operative preparation and the recovery phase, requires additional time. This guarantees that every element of the patient’s care and safety is carefully and thoroughly supervised.

Our surgical staff is committed to performing the procedure with maximum efficiency, accuracy, and meticulousness, ensuring optimal results for our patients. The dedication to achieving the highest standards of performance goes beyond the surgical theatre, encompassing a thorough approach to preparing for surgery and facilitating recovery afterwards. This lays the foundation for a successful recuperation and a substantial enhancement in quality of life.

How long to recover from a knee replacement? How long is recovery from a knee replacement?

Each patient’s recovery path after knee replacement surgery is unique, determined by their health status, the complexity of the surgery, and their commitment to post-operative care and therapy. I can’t anticipate how long it will take to recover from a knee replacement in any particular patient, but here is a general timeframe to expect:

  1. Hospital Stay: 2-3 nights post-surgery.
  2. Crutch Use: 2-4 weeks to aid in mobility.
  3. Pain Management: Pain medication is typically required for 3-6 weeks.
  4. Night Pain: Possible discomfort during the night for 6-8 weeks.
  5. Range of Movement: Noticeable improvements within 10-12 weeks.
  6. Normal Walking: Achieving a near-normal gait and minimal pain around 2 months.
  7. Swelling: Swelling may persist for 6-9 months.

It is important to acknowledge that although there is often great progress in reducing pain and improving function in the first few months, the complete advantages of knee replacement surgery may take 12-18 months to fully manifest. This phase enables the decrease in inflammation and the reinforcement of muscles that may have experienced debilitation as a result of arthritis.

It is crucial to have regular communication with Rhys and your physiotherapist during your recuperation. Adhering diligently to your rehabilitation plan and attending all scheduled follow-up appointments will expedite the resolution of any difficulties and allow for required adjustments to your recovery plan.

The process of recovering involves not just mending but also restoring one’s quality of life. By demonstrating patience, unwavering commitment, and receiving assistance from your surgical and rehabilitation teams, you are well on your way to attaining optimal outcomes and experiencing the complete advantages of your knee replacement in the future.

What helps with pain after knee replacements? What helps nerve pain after knee replacement surgery?

Experiencing discomfort following knee replacement surgery is a normal component of the recovery process, as your body adjusts to the newly implanted joint. Prior to departing from the hospital, Rhys will ensure that you are provided with the essential pain treatment methods to appropriately manage your pain at home. It is crucial to recognise that your level of physical exertion throughout the initial phases of recuperation can impact the intensity of your discomfort, so it is imperative to manage your activities accordingly.

Implementing efficient pain management measures is essential to promote a seamless recovery and permit a prompt return to daily activities. Here are multiple techniques to assist in managing discomfort after your knee replacement:

  1. Medication: Rhys will provide a prescription for pain relief medicine depending on your unique requirements. Adherence to the suggested regimen is critical for pain management and inflammation reduction. Avoiding medication in an attempt to tolerate the pain, or owing to concerns about taking strong painkillers, might result in pain escalation that is difficult to manage. discomfort medication tries to reduce your discomfort to a manageable level, allowing you to function and participate in necessary physiotherapy.
  2. Ice Therapy: Frequent application of ice to the knee region can substantially reduce swelling and relieve pain. It is quite advantageous to apply ice to your knee several times a day, particularly after exercising or undergoing physical treatment.
  3. Physical Therapy: Engaging in prescribed physical therapy exercises is crucial for strengthening the muscles surrounding your knee, improving flexibility, and eventually reducing discomfort. 
  4. Rest: Rest is equally important as movement. Ensuring a proper balance between your activities and sufficient moments of relaxation provides your body with the necessary time for mending. 
  5. Compression: The implementation of compression techniques, such as the use of stockings or bandages, can successfully reduce discomfort by reducing swelling.
  6. Pain Management Techniques: Utilising supplementary pain management strategies such as deep breathing, meditation, and visualisation can provide further assistance in regulating post-operative pain.

Efficient pain control is a crucial element of your road towards healing. Establishing clear and direct contact with Rhys about your pain levels is crucial for making any essential adjustments to your pain management plan. By employing suitable tactics and receiving necessary assistance, you can effectively navigate the period of recovery, so facilitating the restoration of physical mobility and improving your overall quality of life.

What is the MBS code of a knee replacement?

The MBS code for total knee arthroplasty (knee replacement surgery) in Australia can differ depending on the precise characteristics of the procedure. As of my most recent update in April 2023, the MBS item code 49518 is frequently used for complete knee replacement. This code is specifically intended for the surgical process of a total knee replacement, which may also involve the resurfacing of the patella if it is performed.

For more details on the fees associated with knee replacement, please follow this link cost of knee replacement.

Resuming Driving After Your Knee Replacement Surgery – When can I drive after a knee replacement?

Recovering the ability to drive is a crucial milestone in your rehabilitation journey after undergoing knee replacement surgery, signifying your return to self-sufficiency and normal daily activities. Frequently, I am questioned about the duration of driving restrictions following a knee replacement surgery and the specific timeframe for resuming driving after the procedure. The precise duration for when it is deemed safe to resume driving can vary across individuals. As per the guidelines provided by the Australian Orthopaedic Association, it is advisable to wait for 6 weeks after surgery. Moreover, some crucial prerequisites must be fulfilled prior to contemplating operating a vehicle:

– Cease the consumption of opioid-based pain medication, as it has the potential to impair your reaction times and decision-making skills when operating a vehicle.

– You must possess the ability to comfortably sit in the car and manipulate the pedals without encountering any discomfort or pain.

– Your knee should have sufficiently recovered in terms of strength and flexibility to enable safe operation of a vehicle, even in emergency situations.

Individuals who have had surgery on their right knee or who operate manual transmission vehicles may require a lengthier waiting period due to the heightened physical exertion involved in operating the vehicle’s pedals.

Before you start driving again, it is crucial to conduct a test drive in a safe setting to ensure that you can perform all required movements comfortably and without any pain or difficulty. Ensuring safety, both for oneself and others, is of utmost importance.

Reclaiming the ability to drive is a significant achievement on your journey towards recuperation following knee replacement surgery. To ensure a safe and confident return to driving, it is important to adhere to these principles and get customised guidance from your healthcare professional.

Can you run after a knee replacement? Can I jog after a knee replacement?

A common enquiry from patients is if it is permissible to engage in running activities following a knee replacement procedure. Alternatively, is it possible to engage in jogging activities following a knee replacement surgery? As an orthopaedic surgeon, I encourage my patients’ aspirations to resume activities such as running, jogging, tennis, or hockey following knee replacement surgery. I strongly advocate that re-engaging in one’s passions is an essential component of the rehabilitation process and a primary motivation for undergoing this surgery. Nevertheless, it is important to note that it will require a significant amount of time and focused rehabilitation to restore your prior level of physical activity. Although you may perceive a minor difference in the sensation of your knee, it is feasible to gradually resume these activities.

If you did not engage in running or jogging before your knee replacement, it may not be practical to begin participating in these high-impact activities. Alternatively, I suggest engaging in low-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling, as these exert less strain on your just replaced joint. It is important to remember that your knee replacement is a mechanical joint, and participating in high-impact activities can accelerate its deterioration compared to someone who is less physically active.

Understanding Pain Behind the Knee After Total Knee Replacement

Knee replacement-related pain experienced behind of the joint can be distressing. This may occur primarily due to the following two factors:

  1. Pre-Existing Fixed Flexion Deformity: You probably had a fixed flexion deformity associated with arthritis that prevented you from entirely extending (straightening) your leg prior to your knee replacement. Even though the arthritis has been treated and the knee has been able to go fully straight following surgery, the surrounding tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons) may remain stiff. It can be painful to stretch these contracted tissues as you attempt to straighten your knee. Knee replacement and the progression of arthritis are discussed in greater detail here.
  2. Swelling in the Knee: Swelling inside the knee after surgery can put pressure on the capsule behind the knee, which can be painful. When the knee is stretched, this swelling adds to the feeling of pain.

Patients frequently have an instinctive tendency to flex their knees slightly in order to alleviate these problems. Although this position may offer brief relief, as an orthopaedic surgeon, I strongly discourage frequent maintenance of this posture. Prolonged flexion can result in the development of fibrous tissue in the posterior aspect of the knee, potentially impeding your capacity to completely extend the knee in the future.

What Not to Do After a Knee Replacement: Key Guidelines for a Healthy Recovery

After having a knee replacement, it is vital to protect your new joint and guarantee a smooth recovery. Here are some important advice on what not to do after a knee replacement to avoid issues and ensure the surgery’s long-term success. 

Avoid Overexertion in the Early Stages

Exercising too much during the first two weeks after surgery can be harmful. It is critical to give the soft tissues enough time to heal following the operation. While you may feel better, pushing too much too soon can raise the likelihood of issues.

Gradually Increase Activity

By the two-week point, you should begin to gradually increase your physiotherapy exercises. This progressive method allows your body to adjust without overly stressing the new joint.

Monitor for Signs of Infection

It is essential to be watchful for any indications of infection. It is crucial to swiftly address symptoms such as fever or unusual pain, as any infection in the body has the potential to travel to your new joint. This involves meticulously overseeing dental operations to minimise the risk of infections that could potentially impact your knee..

Maintain an Active Lifestyle Within Limits

While maintaining an active lifestyle is crucial, it is also imperative to be aware of your boundaries and limitations. Participating in low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, or cycling can assist in preserving your physical health without placing excessive strain on your knee. Adopting a well-balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity is crucial for effectively managing your weight and minimising stress on your knee replacement.