9 Surprising Facts About Knee Replacement

Knee Replacement Facts You May Not Know

Americans get new knees at a rate of more than 600,000 per year. If you’re one of the many thousands of people planning on knee replacement surgery, consider these fun and helpful facts about knee replacement age requirements, surgical prep, costs, and recovery.

1. Knee replacement surgery is highly successful.

In fact, total knee replacement is one of the most successful surgeries in all of medicine. That’s according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Advancements in implants and surgical techniques is a main reason. For knee recipients, it almost always means relief from knee pain and dysfunction.

2. Knee replacement has no absolute age restriction.

A knee replacement can improve quality of life when your knee is damaged or diseased. Common causes of these knee problems include arthritis and knee injuries. While these conditions tend to affect older adults, younger people can suffer with them too. Most people who get knee replacements are between the ages of 50 and 80. However, the average age has decreased from 68.9 years in 2000 to 66.2 years in 2010. Knee replacement can also be effective for young people with juvenile arthritis and much older people with osteoarthritis.

3. Knee replacement tends to be easier when you prepare for it.

When you take time to prepare for knee replacement, it can really help your healing and recovery. People who are overweight should try to drop some extra pounds prior to surgery. Lightening the load on your new knee will reduce stress on it as it heals. Everyone should take the time to prepare their home before surgery. It will improve safety and comfort once you are home. Take up rugs and other tripping hazards, such as cords. Install grab bars, high toilet seats, and a shower bench in your bathroom. Set up a first-floor living and sleeping area and locate essentials within easy reach.

4. Some knee replacements are minimally invasive.

As techniques have improved, doctors have developed minimally invasive knee replacements. This means doctors can perform total knee replacement using smaller incisions than traditional surgery. Doctors can also perform the replacements robotically which gives even more precision to the surgery with less tissue disruption. People who have this type of surgery tend to have less pain and a faster recovery. The best candidates for this surgery are young, thin and healthy. They also need a strong dedication to rehabilitation. Ask your doctor if minimally invasive knee replacement is an option for you.

5. Knee replacement recovery can be long.

Most people are able to return to normal daily activities after about six weeks of recovery. This includes household activities, work, and driving. Until then, you will need a lot of help, particularly during the first two weeks after surgery. You will gradually add more activities and gain stamina after six weeks. Full recovery and a return to strenuous activities can take several months.

6. Knee replacement recovery involves a lot of walking.

Walking may sound like the last thing you want to do after a knee replacement. But it’s really one of the best things you can do to help your knee heal and regain motion. In fact, you won’t be able to go home until you can use a walker or crutches to walk on your own. Once you are home, walking will be part of your daily rehab program, along with knee exercises. As you gain strength, you will begin walking outside for longer and longer distances. Walking after you have recovered will help maintain the strength and stability of your knee.

7. Most health insurance plans cover knee replacement.

Knee replacement cost is often a concern for people considering the surgery. Health insurance usually covers medically necessary knee replacement. This is true for Medicare and Medicaid as well. Your doctor’s office is used to working with insurance companies. The staff can help you file all the proper paperwork before surgery. You can find out how much money to set aside by calling your insurance provider. They can tell you what your out-of-pocket costs will include. You may have copays, deductibles or co-insurance.

8. Knee replacements are life changing.

Most people have a better quality of life after a knee replacement. You can look forward to returning to your active life and leaving pain behind. Keep in mind other changes are also likely. Your new knee may feel or sound different, which is normal. Kneeling may be uncomfortable, although it won’t harm your knee. However, high-impact activities can be harmful. Your doctor may suggest finding new activities if you are a runner or play sports involving jumping or rough contact.

9. Knee replacements are long-lasting solutions.

Knee implants have mechanical components. Like anything of this nature, wear and tear can affect them. However, more than 90% of knee implants will last at least 15 years or more. Some will last much longer. You can help extend the life of your implant with some simple steps. Maintain a healthy weight to decrease stress on your implant. Avoid high-impact activities to protect it from damage. Stay active and get regular exercise to strengthen the muscles that support and stabilize your knee. You also need to schedule regular visits with your orthopaedic surgeon to monitor the implant.

Signs You’re Ready for Knee Replacement

If you’re thinking about having knee replacement surgery, you’re in good company. Every year, more than a half-million Americans opt for the procedure.

Many people have knee replacements (also called knee arthroplasty) because they have osteoarthritis. This condition occurs when the cartilage (tissue) that cushions the knee joint wears away. As a result, bone rubs against bone, which is quite painful. Other people may need a new knee because they have rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that causes chronic joint inflammation. Still others may have had an injury causing knee pain and limiting function. These conditions are known to cause gradual worsening of knee pain over a long period of time. It’s not always easy to know when knee replacement surgery is necessary. You and our doctors will take several factors into account in deciding if (or when) joint replacement is right for you. These factors include your X-ray or MRI results, pain level, physical function, personal health history, and weight.

Here are high-level guidelines that can help you prepare for a conversation with your our doctors about moving forward with knee replacement.

Why You Might Say “Now’s the Time” 

Here are seven signs that the time might be right for a knee replacement:

  1. Medications—even stronger anti-inflammatory drugs—don’t help, or no longer help ease your pain. 
  2. Other less invasive treatment options don’t effectively reduce your pain and inflammation. These may include cortisone injections, lubricating injections, rest, and physical therapy. 
  3. You have lots of difficulty and pain performing everyday tasks, such dressing, bathing, getting out of bed or a chair, or climbing stairs.
  4. You need the aid of a cane or walker to get around. 
  5. Your pain is severe day and night. The pain is there even when you’re not using your knee, such as when you’re sitting still or lying down. 
  6. Your knee has become deformed from injury or arthritis. It bows in or out. (However, in some cases, severe deformity can make surgery more difficult. If you start to feel severe deformity, talk with our doctors sooner than later.) 
  7. You are between 50 and 80 years old. Most people who get knees replaced are in this age range. (However, age is not necessarily a deciding factor. Surgeons successfully perform knee replacements on patients of all ages.)

Why You Might Say “Not Yet” 

Here are a five reasons knee replacement might not be right for you—at least for now:

  1. You still have time to give more conservative treatments a chance to work. These options include rest, ice, heat, muscle-strengthening exercises, and pain medications. 
  2. Your pain is bearable, and medications are helping. 
  3. You can still get around and do your normal activities without much difficulty. 
  4. You have weak thigh muscles that wouldn’t be able to support a new knee joint. Or, you have open sores or ulcers in the area that could easily become infected after surgery. 
  5. You are very overweight. Extra weight puts more pressure on your knees, and may move parts of the artificial knee joint. This can lead to pain or further surgery.

Have a Conversation With Our Doctors

Before you make up your mind about having your knee replaced, talk with our doctors about the possible risks of surgery. These can include infection, loosening of the knee replacement parts, and movement limitations. Also, talk about any health conditions you might have that could make the operation and your recovery more difficult.

It’s also important to have realistic expectations for how quickly you will recover from the surgery. It can take several weeks to several months to feel back to normal after a knee replacement. You’ll also need to commit to physical therapy and exercise. Your doctor can talk through the factors that can speed up or slow down recovery, and help you decide if the timing is right.

Under the right circumstances, a knee replacement can significantly boost your quality of life. More than 90% of people who get new knees are able to resume their normal activities shortly afterward and are happy with the results, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. And pinpointing a good time to have a knee replacement is a key part of having success with the procedure.

When it comes to hip replacement surgery, not all surgeries are created equal

The options you need to know before deciding to have hip replacement surgery

Author: Dr. James Loging, MD, MBA, FAAOS

   You have always enjoyed an active lifestyle until that one day when you start to notice an unusual pain in your hip. You tried to manage the pain hoping it would get better, only to find that over time it has progressively gotten worse. As the pain worsens you find yourself avoiding activities you once enjoyed.  After realizing that the pain will not get better on its own, you decide to see your doctor to see what may be going on.  It’s then that you find out that the pain your experiencing is related to severe arthritis in your hip and that you need a hip replacement to resolve your pain.  This can be a scary and very stressful situation.  But it doesn’t have to be if you know that there are options available to help you recover faster and experience less pain after surgery.

   Most people don’t realize that there are multiple ways that the hip can be replaced by an orthopedic surgeon.  Unfortunately, not all orthopedic surgeons are trained on all the different options available and tend to only offer one approach to patients. They also usually don’t even discuss the approach they will perform with the patient.  The reason for this is because of the type of training the doctor received typically only involves one approach, which is why the orthopedic surgeon only performs that one option for patients.  However, not all the different approaches are created equal and certain ones have significant benefits over others.  The approach that has the most benefits is called the Anterior Approach.

   Anterior Hip Replacement surgery means that the surgeon replaces a patient’s hip by coming from the front (anterior) of the hip. The benefit of coming from the front is that the doctor doesn’t have to cut muscles to replace the hip which makes for a significantly faster recovery compared to all the other methods of replacing a hip. All other approaches, which include posterior, lateral, and anterolateral all must cut muscles and disrupt vital tissues to replace the hip. Other benefits of anterior approach and not cutting muscles include less pain, less blood loss, less risk for dislocation, and more equal restoration of leg lengths. But the biggest thing most patients care about is the faster recovery which allows you to get back to living life without the pain and not having a prolonged recovery process.  Anterior hip replacement is also so less invasive that lots of patients are candidates to have their surgery done outpatient and able to recover in the comfort of their own home with out the need for a costly hospital stay.

Some physicians may recommend a hip resurfacing surgery instead of a hip replacement. A hip resurfacing is essentially a hip replacement but instead of replacing the ball, a cap is placed over the patients existing ball and the hip socket is still replaced as in a hip replacement. Be cautious when considering this as hip resurfacings has lots of potential downfalls. First, for most surgeons to resurface a hip, a posterior approach is performed which cuts most all muscles away from the hip and leads to permanent damage to the muscle that can have detrimental consequences in the future. Second, hip resurfacings are all metal on metal components which have significant well known complications including implant failure, local hip tissue and muscle damage, and absorption of metal fragments that are generated from the metal components rubbing together into the blood stream and traveling throughout the body. This absorption of metal ions has been suggested to lead to numerus health problems including cancer. Hip resurfacings all have a very short and limited lifespan and will all eventually have to be revised to a full hip replacement. For these serious concerns mentioned, hip replacement performed by anterior approach is much preferred to hip resurfacing. Patients also experience a faster and easier recovery compared to hip resurfacing.

   When it comes to anterior hip replacement, experience also matters. If your surgeon hasn’t been performing anterior hip replacement for very long or doesn’t perform it regularly, then you should consider looking for a surgeon who has more experience in the surgery. Surgeons with limited experience have a much higher complication rate and can lead to decreased success of the surgery. Thus, experience matters. Palmetto Bone and Joint has the most experienced surgeon in anterior hip replacement and has been performing this procedure longer and performed more anterior hip replacements than any surgeon in South Carolina.

So, if your contemplating hip replacement surgery, know that you have options and don’t settle for an approach that will affect your recovery and outcome. Call Palmetto Bone and Joint to discuss these options and what’s best for you.