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The knees are one of the most used and stressed joints in the human body, and you might need a knee joint replaced if you are injured or have a disease such as severe arthritis that affects the joints. Although surgeons perform this procedure every day, it does have some harsh realities you need to know about before going forward.
1) You might suffer serious complications.
According to WebMD, as with any other surgery, you might face infection or excess bleeding. You also could suffer from breathing issues due to tiny pieces of fat coming loose from the bone marrow, entering the bloodstream and getting into the lungs. Other worries include blood clots, breaking or loosening of the replacement parts, artery damage, nerve damage and numbness and additional broken bones that might require a longer hospital stay or recovery time. Some patients also experience side effects from the anesthesia, transfusions, painkillers and antibiotics.
2) You will need regular physical therapy.
To ensure that you regain sufficient range of motion and flexibility in the knee joint following your surgery, your surgeon will develop a physical therapy regimen that’s appropriate for you. The therapy typically starts within 48 hours of the surgery while you are still in the hospital. After you are discharged, you might need to go to a rehabilitation facility for up to a week. If your knee surgeon feels you’re in good enough shape to recover at home, you’ll need to make arrangements for a physical therapist to go through exercises with you at your house. Additional outpatient therapy at a physical therapy center can take another two months.
3) Your regular activities might be very tough or restricted.
Everyday activities can be hard to complete after knee surgery. You won’t be able to climb stairs as easily or do activities that rely on squatting, and even things like bending the knee to 90 degrees when using the toilet or putting on socks may challenge you. It’s best to make some modifications to your home, get some assisting devices (for instance, a grabbing stick) and ask others to help around the house as you recover. You also should be aware that most doctors don’t recommend being intimate until 4 to 6 weeks after your surgery, so if you have a partner, you should be prepared for this temporary loss of physical intimacy. Some patients become depressed because of this temporary loss of independence or connection.
4) You might need to repeat your surgery.
Technological advances are making the parts used in knee replacement surgery last longer than ever–about 85 percent of joint implants now last up to 20 years. This durability is good, but with life expectancy very high, the odds are pretty good that you’ll live longer than your implant lasts. You also could need additional surgery if your implant breaks after the procedure.
5) You’ll be out of work for weeks, not days.
Due to pain and related medications, the need to heal, physical therapy requirements and restrictions on driving, you probably won’t be able to return to work for at least a three weeks after your procedure. You’ll need to plan for this financially and make arrangements with your employer.
Knee replacement is a common but still serious procedure. Your recovery will take time, and you’ll need to make multiple accommodations to heal and stay positive. For this reason, you and your doctor should make sure it is the last option available to you.