Questions to ask your doctor after knee replacement
What to ask your doctor after knee replacement; Knee replacement - after - what to ask your doctor; Knee arthroplasty - after - what to ask your doctor
You had surgery to get a new knee joint.
Below are questions you may want to ask your surgeon or health care provider to help you take care of your new joint.
Your knee has been hurting for a while, and it hurts bad. You've had trouble sleeping. It may be hard to bathe, to do normal chores like wash the car, or even be comfortable on the job. You may have severe arthritis in your knee, and if so there's a good chance you need a knee replacement. So, what is a knee replacement? Knee replacements are usually done in people age 60 and older. If you need one, you probably have severe arthritis that limits your daily life. During knee joint replacement, your surgeon will remove damaged cartilage and bone from the knee joint. The surgeon then puts man-made pieces, called prostheses, in their place. The lower end of the thigh bone, also called the femur, is usually replaced with a metal part. The part that replaces the upper end of the shin bone, the tibia, is usually made from metal and a strong plastic. The piece that replaces the back side of your kneecap, or patella, is usually made from a strong plastic. You shouldn't feel any pain during surgery because you will have medicine to make you fall asleep. The surgeon will make a cut over your knee to open it up. The cut is usually eight to ten inches long. Your surgeon will move your kneecap out of the way, then cut the ends of your thigh bone and shin bone to fit the replacement part. The surgeon will then cut the underside of your kneecap and prepare it for the new pieces that will attach there. The surgeon then fastens the two parts of the prosthesis to your bones, the upper end of the shin bone and the lower end of the thigh bone. Then the parts are attached to the underside of your kneecap using a special cement. The surgery usually takes a couple hours. After surgery, you will probably stay in the hospital for three to five days. As soon as the first day after surgery, you will be asked to start moving and walking around with a walker, crutches, or a cane. You will likely need physical therapy to strengthen your new joint after your operation. Some people need a short stay in a rehabilitation center after they leave the hospital. At the rehab center, you will learn how to safely do your daily activities on your own. Full recovery can take three months to a year. Your new knee should last for 15 years or maybe even 20. And in the mean time, your new knee should allow you to resume your daily activities once you have learned to move around. Most or all of your pain and stiffness should go away.
How did the surgery go? Is there anything different from what we discussed before surgery?
What are my precautions or limitations during recovery?
When will I go home? Will I be able to go straight home, or do I need to go to a rehabilitation facility for more recovery?
How active will I be after I go home?
- How long will I need to use crutches or a walker after I go home?
- When can I begin to place weight on my new joint?
- How much weight can I put on my new joint?
- Do I need to be careful about how I sit or move around?
- How much walking can I do? Do I need to use a cane?
- Will I be able to walk without pain? How far?
- When will I be able to do other activities, such as golf, swimming, tennis, or hiking?
Will I have pain medicines when I go home? How should I take them?
Will I need to take blood thinners when I go home?
- How often? How long?
- Do I need to have my blood drawn to monitor how the medicines affect me?
How can I get my home ready after I go home?
- How much help will I need when I come home?
- Will I be able to get out of bed?
- How can I make my home safer for me?
- How can I make it easier to get around in my home?
- How can I make it easier for myself in the bathroom and shower?
- What type of supplies will I need when I get home?
- Do I need to rearrange my home?
- What should I do if there are steps that go to my bedroom or bathroom?
What are the signs that something is wrong with my new knee? How can I prevent problems with my new knee?
What are other signs and symptoms that I need to call my surgeon's office?
How do I take care of my surgical wound?
- How often should I change the dressing? How do I wash the wound?
- What should my wound look like? What wound problems do I need to watch for?
- When do sutures and staples come out?
- When can I take a shower? Can I take a bath or soak in the hot tub? How about swimming?
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Total knee replacement.
Mihalko WM. Arthroplasty of the knee. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 7.
Last reviewed on: 4/24/2023
Reviewed by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.