Have you recently been told you will require knee surgery? Whether or not you saw it coming doesn’t change the fact that surgery can be a stressful thing that causes anxiety and fear. Surgery is often the last resort for many issues and conditions and the hope is that after the procedure you’ll be able to heal and be better off, which is true for knee surgery.
To help you feel better and more confident about your upcoming procedure, let’s take a look at what you can expect from knee surgery – before, during and after. Once you’ve got the facts, you’ll probably feel much more comfortable and even hopeful about what the surgery will be able to accomplish.
What Kind of Knee Surgery Will You Need?
Simply saying you need knee surgery doesn’t specify what kind of surgery will be done. It will depend on the problem, the source of the pain and discomfort, and how extensive the problem is. Someone who is suffering from arthritis that has caused severe knee pain may require knee joint replacement, whereas a torn ligament will require a different type of procedure. It’s best not to assume you need total knee replacement until the doctor states it as a fact.
The best tip is to schedule an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon to discuss surgery. You can contact a clinic such as Circle Health Group which offers an orthopaedic consultant network that deals with a wide range of issues – such as knee surgery. It’s important to get a personalised treatment plan that addresses your symptoms so that you get the results you’re after.
Preparing for the Surgery
The weeks and days leading up to your surgery can be quite stressful, which is why it’s a good idea to ask as many questions as possible. In most cases, the doctor will provide you with informational material to go over. This should also include any special instructions to follow before the surgery.
Often the doctor will advise patients to stay as active as possible up until the surgery. That doesn’t mean pushing yourself and risking injury, but usually, movement and light exercise is encouraged. By staying active you’ll be building the muscles in and around your knee, which will help to speed up the recovery process.
Some of the exercises that can strengthen your muscles without risking injury include swimming and walking. The focus needs to be on gentle activity.
What to Expect on the Day of Surgery
The day of your surgery is often a flurry of activity to start with, and it ends with you recovering and taking it easy. Again, your doctor will provide you with all the details that you need to follow such as what time to arrive, what you’ll need to bring with you, how long the procedure will take, how long you will need to stay there after the surgery, the fact that you’ll need to make travel arrangements to get home (a family member or friend can help here), and your pre-operative assessment.
It’s quite common to remain in the hospital for a few days after knee replacement surgery, but this is something that will be discussed in advance. Your doctor and the medical team need to feel confident that it’s safe to send you home.
How Long Is the Recovery Process?
Probably the most common question that people have is how long the recovery process will take. How long until you feel good again, are mobile and the pain is gone? This answer will differ for each person but, generally, it is safe to assume you’ll be able to go about normal life and activities six weeks after surgery. That doesn’t mean the healing and recovery process is over – far from it – it just means that you can expect to get back to some sort of normal life at that point.
In terms of full recovery, that can take up to a year depending on the person, how well they heal and how committed they are to their recovery plan. In some cases it may be necessary to have a revision knee replacement surgery if healing doesn’t go as planned, infection occurs, a component becomes loose and so forth.
During the initial few weeks, you’ll be using crutches and from there you will build strength until you can stop using the walking aid. You will also work with a physiotherapist to strengthen your knee.
Take Away the Stress and Fear
Learning about your surgery is a great way to eliminate much of the stress and fear you are currently feeling. No one wants to get surgery, but remember what the benefits are and what it can do for you in terms of quality of life, pain management and mobility. Asking questions before the surgery can certainly help you to feel more comfortable and confident going into the procedure.