You've been fighting osteoporosis for several years. It has gotten more painful in your knees as you walk. Sometimes the pain is so bad that you have to stand for a few minutes to catch your breath before taking any more steps. Your doctor has suggested knee replacement surgery as a way to keep you mobile and get rid of the pain. Here is what you can expect from this surgery and how it will impact your life.
You Get a Completely New Knee Joint
The surgery removes the portions of your upper and lower leg bones that come together to form the knee joint. Plastic and metal components are inserted where the bone was removed. These pieces are molded to fit together much like your original knee joint. When your knee heals from the surgery, the artificial joint will move like a healthy knee joint. Perhaps the best part is that osteoporosis cannot damage your new knee so you'll have years of pain-free movement with your new knee joint.
What You Can Expect After Surgery
The hospital staff will get you up out of bed several hours after surgery; perhaps the same day. Moving around stimulates the blood flow, which speeds up healing. On the next day, expect to meet the physical therapist who will show you how to walk with crutches or a walker while putting a little weight on your affected leg.
For a couple of days, the doctor and staff will monitor your surgical site to make sure healing is progressing with no complications, such as an infection. The physical therapist will continue working with you on walking with support. When the doctor is satisfied with the healing of the surgical site, you'll be sent home, where the real work begins.
Learning to Walk on Your New Knee
While recovering at home, you'll continue to have sessions with the physical therapist, and you'll have your own exercises to do. The therapy is broken into two phases: flexibility and strengthening.
- Joint flexibility - The therapist will move your knee through its normal range of motion to slowly stretch out the muscles and tendons affected by the surgery. Your knee will initially feel stiff, but it will loosen up as the muscles regain their length. You'll be shown some knee stretching exercises to do on your own between visits with the therapist.
- Knee strengthening - Once the muscles in your knee can move normally, the therapist will show you exercises to build up the strength of those muscles to hold your knee joint securely as you walk. You'll now be walking regularly with minimal support and putting most of the weight on your leg. As your knee gets stronger, you'll graduate from using any support and begin walking faster.
The impact of your total knee surgery is pain-free mobility again. You'll be able to be active again and do things that were a struggle with your old, painful knee joints. To find out more, speak with someone like Joseph P. Spott, DO.