The ultimate guide to Total Knee Replacement
developed especially for patients in North Central Indiana, including Logansport, Rochester, Peru, Monticello, Winamac, and surrounding communities
Solutions for chronic knee pain
What’s in this guide—
Chronic knee pain can make everyday activities seem unbearable, but you don’t have to live that way.
If your knee aches when you walk upstairs or when you sit or lie down, and your long-lasting pain isn’t getting any better, it may be time to start thinking about a solution like knee replacement.
Knee replacement surgery is very common, but the decision to have surgery is a personal one. How do you know when it’s time to have knee replacement surgery?
In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn more about:
- What might be causing your knee pain
- Which treatment options are available
- How to know when surgery is your best choice
- Why you should choose Logansport Memorial Hospital for your joint replacement needs
Why Does Your Knee Hurt?
Learn What’s Causing Your Knee Pain
If you’re tired of living with knee pain, it’s time to find answers. A number of things can cause knee pain and finding out why your knee hurts is the first step in a better, healthier future.
Knee pain is a common problem that affects any and all ages. The pain you’re experiencing could be the result of an injury, a medical condition such as arthritis or infection, or from overuse
Knee pain symptoms include:
- Difficulty walking
- Instability of the knee
- Limping from discomfort
- Unable to bend the knee
- Redness and/or swelling
- Unable to fully extend the knee
Symptoms can stem from four major knee pain categories including acute injury, medical conditions, arthritis, mechanical problems and/or chronic use/overuse.
Acute Knee Injuries
If you’re suffering from knee pain caused by an acute injury, it’s likely you have experienced a fracture or trauma to the bone. Additional acute injuries include ACL tears, meniscus tears, knee bursitis, and patellar tendonitis. This form of injury is not only painful, but it can also affect the function and proper structure of the knee. Acute knee injuries require prompt attention from a healthcare provider. Healing from an acute knee injury like this may lead to knee pain in the future.
Knee pain doesn’t always have to be from a forceful trauma or injury you experience. Sometimes your pain suddenly appears, leaving you to wonder how or why. If you are overweight and/or obese, your pain could be a result of the extra stress on your knee joints. For every pound that you are overweight, it is an extra four pounds for your knee to absorb when you do simple movements like walking or climbing stairs. Obesity can put you at risk for osteoarthritis which can cause the cartilage in your knee to deteriorate.
There are several different types of arthritis that can affect any and every part of the body. Your knee pain could be the result of a type of arthritis impacting your knee including:
- Osteoarthritis: “Wear and tear” condition
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: A chronic, autoimmune disease
- Gout: Buildup of uric acid in the joints
- Septic arthritis: Infection leading to redness, swelling, and knee pain
- If any type of arthritis in your knee is making it difficult for you to walk, sleep, and/or go to work, this may be a sign that you need to think about knee replacement surgery.
Mechanical Problems and Chronic Use/Overuse
Your knee plays an important part in your everyday movement. It’s common to experience knee pain due to mechanical problems or overuse injuries. Mechanical problems can consist of
Leaving your knee pain or injury untreated won’t make it go away, or easier to ignore over time. In fact, it could make it worse. Stay ahead of your knee pain and find a solution that feels right for you with your trusted healthcare provider.
What Are Your Treatment Options?
Get Relief for Knee Pain
While surgery is an option, it’s not your only option for treating knee pain. Non-surgical options may help you find relief without needing a medical procedure. If you feel like you have tried to find alternative solutions to surgery, but nothing has worked for you, talk with your healthcare provider about the following options for something more.
Joint pain is not always a structural issue. When your knee pain is related to stress, overuse, or injury, a lifestyle change can be the solution you’re looking for. Following a proper diet with the right nutrition that leads to weight loss can be a successful treatment option for your joint pain. Sometimes, your joint pain comes from the added stress on your knee joints caused by carrying excessive weight.
Building a healthier body starts with the proper diet and nutrition, and it may be the solution that works for your knee pain. Remember, every pound you gain is like an extra four pounds across your knees. Losing just a little bit of weight—even five or ten pounds—can make a huge difference in helping with your joint pain.
Whatever the reason for your joint pain, it may be causing you to restrict your activity level. When your knee hurts, it’s natural to not want to move it often, but exercise can help reduce both short- and long-term joint pain.
Physical therapy is a great, non-surgical exercise option that many patients don’t always consider. A physical therapist is trained to guide you through safe exercises that will loosen up stiff joints or help strengthen the muscles in your knee.
Working with a physical therapist before turning to surgery may help you find some relief from knee pain as you move closer to making a long-term decision about how to address it.
It’s important to listen to your body. Don’t push yourself beyond your body’s capabilities. Stress fractures, traumatic knee injuries, and overuse injuries stem from going beyond what your body can handle. If you’re experiencing knee pain, try managing the stress you’re putting on your body by evaluating your activity levels to ensure they are appropriate and safe.
The best non-surgical option for you could be the use of medications and injections to help you find relief. Knee injections may use medicines like corticosteroids (also known as cortisone shots), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), and analgesics as part of your doctor’s approach to treating your knee pain. Cortisone shots and other knee injections make great non-surgical treatment options because they bring targeted relief to your joint pain. Benefits can last anywhere from a few days to more than six months, but every patient is different. Because of potential side effects, the number of shots you can receive in one year is generally limited, so if that doesn’t work as well as you had hoped, it may be time for knee replacement surgery.
If non-surgical treatments have not relieved you of your knee pain, it’s time to consider surgery as your best option. Depending on the severity of your pain and injury, there are a couple of procedures you may consider.
Arthroscopic knee surgery is a common procedure that allows your orthopedic surgeon to get a closer look
Total Knee Replacement
During a total knee replacement, your entire knee will be replaced with an artificial joint. Oftentimes, a total knee replacement is necessary if trauma, infection, arthritis, or overuse injuries are too severe for other treatment options. The replacement of an entire joint is a more invasive form of surgery and requires hospitalization for a few days after your procedure. Although total knee replacement surgery is a more complex and invasive surgery, typically requiring a hospital stay for 3–5 days afterward, many patients report significant or complete relief from their knee pain symptoms after recovery.
Learn the three benefits of joint replacement surgery »
Find out if it’s time to talk to your doctor about having knee surgery »
When Should You Consider Total Knee Replacement?
Determine if You’re a Good Candidate for Knee Surgery
If knee replacement surgery is your best treatment option, it’s important to know in advance if you’re a good candidate for the procedure. Understanding the risks and benefits of your knee replacement surgery will allow you to be better prepared and informed.
Having knee pain is not the only qualification to be a good candidate for surgery. As a potential patient, you should take your age, health, and other existing medical conditions into consideration.
Age and Knee Replacement Surgery
There are no absolute age restrictions for total knee replacement surgery. Recommendations for surgery are based on a patient’s level of knee pain and disability, not age. Most patients who undergo total knee replacement are somewhere between ages 50 to 80, but orthopedic surgeons evaluate every patient individually. Older patients can be more susceptible to certain side effects after surgery, particularly from going under anesthesia. If you are worried about whether or not your age may be an issue in recovering from knee replacement surgery, talk to your orthopedic surgeon.
Overall Health and Knee Replacement Surgery
Good nutrition and physical activity are important parts of helping your knees to function at their best. After surgery, you’ll work with a physical therapist to properly stretch and strengthen your joints, with the goal of returning to everyday activities safely and comfortably. The state of your overall health can play a key role in your recovery, so follow the medical advice of eating right and performing the recommended physical therapy strengthening exercises.
Existing Medical Conditions and Knee Replacement Surgery
If you have an existing medical condition, like diabetes, it’s important to know how your surgery will affect your overall health. Diabetics can suffer from non-healing wounds, which can lead to a higher potential risk of infection during recovery from surgery. Talk to your orthopedic surgeon about your existing medical conditions to prepare a procedure and treatment plan that’s best suited for your specific health needs.
Risks and Benefits of Having Knee Replacement Surgery
The benefits of surgery will often outweigh the possible risks. In most knee replacement surgeries or total knee replacements, you will experience relief from your previous pain and will be well on your way to living a better, healthier life with better, healthier joints. Although it is uncommon, it’s possible to experience complications from your surgery including blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, and infections. The blood thinners can also put you at risk for uncontrollable bleeding.
However, while the list of complications can be intimidating, the overall frequency of major complications following total knee replacement surgery is low, and success rates are high with patients seeing a significant improvement in their mobility and pain level. The overall risk of surgery is dependent both on the complexity of the knee problem but also on the patient’s overall medical health. It’s important to inform yourself about all the risks and benefits of knee replacement surgery. Understand what it will mean for your knee pain if you choose to not have surgery.
Doing research ahead of time will help you feel prepared to go into your appointment with your orthopedic surgeon, ready to ask the necessary questions to choose your best treatment option.
What to Expect When You Consult with an Orthopedic Surgeon
Finding the right physician is a big part
Preparing for Surgery
Before your surgery, you will have had several appointments with your doctor to go over your surgery and post-operative plans. You will also receive individualized pre-operative education and take Logansport Memorial’s joint training class, where you will have one-on-one discussions with members of your care team from the orthopedics office, physical therapy, and case management.
Preparing for your post-operative needs prior to surgery is another way to smoothly transition into recovery. The Logansport Memorial joint replacement program follows a patient through the entire process, from pre-operative education through post-operative planning and care.
Paying for Surgery
The cost of a knee replacement surgery can quickly add up with doctor fees, hospital stays, and necessary equipment like a cane or walker. The Logansport Memorial orthopedics office will be happy to walk you through what fees are associated with knee replacement surgery so that you can anticipate how to budget accordingly.
If you’re in a position that prevents you from financially preparing for your upcoming surgery, reach out to the financial counselors at Logansport Memorial Hospital to come up with a plan for moving forward.
Returning to Work After Surgery
A common question for many patients after preparation and payment for knee replacement surgery is about the timeline of when to return to work. For most, total knee replacement recovery takes approximately six weeks. Remember, your recovery time will be influenced by how well you follow the strengthening exercises from your physical therapist and by how well you maintain proper nutrition after surgery.
If you work in a position where you mostly sit and experience little lifting or movement, your recovery time may put you back at work within four to six weeks. If your job requires more frequent lifting, standing, or bending, it could be as long as six to eight weeks before you can safely return to work.
Your orthopedic surgeon will monitor your progress through recovery and help you make the best decision for you.
Learn the four tips for a strong recovery after orthopedic surgery »
Why Choose Logansport Memorial Hospital
Personalized Care, Close to Home
At Logansport Memorial Hospital, your health is our passion. Our multi-disciplinary team of surgeons, therapists, and specialty providers will put you first and make your best care their top priority.
Board-certified orthopedic surgeons lead our joint replacement
Our team also includes a board-certified rheumatologist when needed for consultation and guidance in non-operative treatment, depending on the type of arthritis that’s causing your knee pain or joint pain.
Trust Us To Care For You
The decision to undergo knee replacement surgery is a choice about your quality of life. Patients typically choose to have this surgical procedure when they find themselves avoiding activities that they used to enjoy because of knee pain.
When basic activities of daily life—like walking, shopping, or reasonable recreational activities—are limited or avoided by the knee pain you are experiencing, it may be time to consider knee replacement surgery. Enjoying these activities again, like golf, dancing, and traveling almost always improves following a knee replacement.
When you’re ready, Logansport Memorial is also ready to help you treat your knee pain.
Call 574.722.2663 to make an appointment or request an appointment online »
Be sure to download the additional resources within and print a copy of this guide to help you answer questions about knee pain and treatment options.