For many patients, hearing the words “You need a knee replacement” doesn’t come as a surprise. The patient may have had years of physical therapy, injections, or an arthroscopy to mitigate the pain and hold out on surgery as long as possible. However, each individual has their own threshold of how much pain they can endure and how many daily activities are hampered by constant knee pain.
Mid-Tennessee Bone and Joint is proud to have three surgeons who specialize in knee replacements. Dr. Freddy Wade, Dr. Scott McCall, and Dr. Cason Shirley have a combined 40 years of experience in joint replacement therapies and surgeries. Our physicians collaborate with one another to determine the best care for all of our joint patients. Every year, we successfully complete hundreds of knee procedures on patients whose lifestyles are significantly affected by joint pain.
There are a variety of situations that can ultimately lead to knee surgery. A key reason is arthritis, which includes pain, stiffness and inflammation in the joints. For those over 60, osteoarthritis is typically the most common form of arthritis. The progressive wear and tear on joints and cartilage leads to limited range of motion, a pain that aches from deep within the joint, or occasionally the feeling of your bones catching or grating against each other with the use of that joint. A joint replacement for those affected areas typically relieves the pain and discomfort associated with this degenerative condition. Knee replacements can also be triggered due to trauma or an injury.
Often before a knee replacement is ordered, there can be several weeks of physical therapy to determine if this less invasive method is right for you. If given the opportunity to stretch, strengthen, and increase flexibility in the muscles around the knee, pain may decrease to the point where the patient is not as limited in their movements. Stronger muscles help better support a joint, thereby reducing stress on that joint.
In the past decade, there have been numerous advances in knee replacements. These developments have improved outcomes and made getting a knee replaced much easier on some patients, both in the operating room and during the recovery period. Some surgeons utilize MRI scans before your surgery to get a three dimensional view of the area, which can provide benefits to a select number of patients. Using MRI in your procedure is dependent upon the type of surgery you’re having and whether your surgeon decides if it is right for you.
The medical device industry has improved the designs of the total knee to more closely replicate your own knee’s alignment and orientation. Knee implant designs have also improved so that knees are lasting longer and functioning more like a normal knee. The newest knee designs and materials have been wear tested for 45 million cycles which simulates over 30 years of normal use.
A knee replacement is not a one-size-fits-all treatment. For as many individual patients, there are almost as many options when it comes to the types of knee surgeries available. A partial knee replacement is used when only one part of the knee is damaged, either the inside (medial) or outside (lateral) parts of the knee. A patient who received a knee replacement in the past may eventually be a candidate for a revision, where an old device is replaced with a new one. This can happen due to the age of the device or if the patient engages in high impact activities, for example.
Advances in pain management are a possible reason why some patients have quicker recovery and a more satisfying overall experience with their knee replacement surgery. As surgeons, we work with the anesthesia team to use a special pain management strategy to help with pain control. With this option, some patients can take minimal narcotic pain medicine in the first 48-72 hours after their knee surgery.
Post-surgery, a patient will typically undergo physical therapy for four to six weeks. Patients can do out-patient therapy at the location of their choosing, or in-patient therapy options are also available. In-patient physical therapy is usually offered when a patient lives alone or does not have anyone nearby who is available to help.
MTBJ offers our own physical therapy suite downstairs in our building, making it very convenient for patients to stay local after their procedure. Our doctors coordinate with the physical therapists to devise a specially created care plan tailored just for you and your needs.
If you’re experiencing knee pain that keeps you from being active and enjoying life, don’t wait to get it checked out. Knowing what to expect with any knee injury or other condition is important, and our physicians are available to guide you in making your health related decisions.
Read more about how we treat knees!