Getting a knee replacement is a big deal. For many of the patients I see in New York, it can be life-changing and allow them to get back to the hobbies and activities that they love. Before a surgery takes place, I like to sit down with my patients and have a conversation about what they should expect during and after a procedure and how they should best prepare for it. This includes working with a physical therapist, getting their residence in order for a smooth recovery, and taking off an appropriate amount of time from work, as needed. While each patient is different, the following are a few examples of what is typical, and what is not, following a replacement.
Typical: Slight, weeks-long swelling
Not: Significant and prolonged swelling
After your surgery, you will experience some swelling around the area of operation, and this is completely expected. After all, your body has gone through a significant change and is adjusting accordingly. You should reach out with questions if the swelling expands beyond your knee or lasts for longer than we discussed during your consultation and appointments.
Not: Noise that comes with pain
After your replacement knee is in your body, you might hear some popping and clicking when your joint is in motion. What you are observing are the mechanical components of your replacement knee. This is nothing to be concerned about unless it is accompanied by a sharp pain or other continual discomfort after healing takes place.
Not: Total immobility
As you get used to your new knee, you will likely notice that your range of motion is not quite what it was before your surgery. Take comfort in the fact that this will subside with continued physical therapy and time. Many patients are able to walk on their replacement within a few days after surgery. If you are experiencing pain with every movement even a few weeks after your surgery, it’s time to consult with an expert.
Typical: Pain in other areas of your body
Not: Leaving it untreated
It might take some time for the rest of your body to adjust to having a new knee. This is especially true if you spent a lot of time avoiding putting pressure on an arthritic knee and instead placed it on other parts of your body, like your hips or ankles. With time, your body should realign naturally and with the assistance of physical activity. However, if problems in these areas continue, it might be a sign of a more significant issue that you should have evaluated.
Each patient has an individual journey, and their experiences after surgery are unique. Having questions after a replacement takes place is certainly expected, and you should never be worried about asking something that seems obvious or silly. We’ve heard it all, and we are happy to assist in anyway that we can. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any concerns.