“What will I be able to do after my knee surgery?” is a question I’m commonly asked. “Will I be able to kneel?” is another.
The knee joint is a complex hinge; it not only bends back and forth, it also rotates and glides. The knee supports the weight of the body, and copes with jarring movements as well as sudden stop-starts. Little wonder, really, it so frequently wears out.
Degenerative arthritis (such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis) and injury are two of the more common causes of knee damage I see. Pain, destruction of cartilage and bone, deformity of the joint and the ensuing muscle weakness will all affect recovery, as well as the degree of motion is regained. With diseases such as arthritis, other joints may well be affected, both from the disease itself and from having to compensate for the worn joint. All of these factors will affect the ultimate movement regained in the replaced joint.
Total knee replacement, or total knee arthroplasty, is one of the most commonly performed orthopaedic procedures. Each patient needs to be individually assessed before a decision is made, but even in advanced cases can provide significant pain relief as well as granting functional improvement. As a result, the patient’s quality of life is improved.
Depending upon your circumstances, you should be standing or walking the day after surgery – by 6 weeks, most patients can walk with very little support (but please bear in mind it can take up to 12 months for full recovery and maximum benefit to be achieved). A post-surgery rehabilitation programme tailored to your needs helps to achieve these goals.
By preserving the fat-pad in knee arthroscopy surgery, 70% of my patients are able to kneel after surgery, giving an idea of how flexible a knee replacement can be. This has a significant impact on their mobility and day-to-day life. Add to this the advances being made in 3D scanning, with the potential to design bespoke (customised) joints, and future post-surgical results look even more promising.
Depending upon your pre-surgical condition, most activities are achievable; only those which involve jarring of the joint, or causing the knee to bear a heavy load, need to be avoided. You can walk, cycle, swim (once your wound is healed), play golf and even a limited game of tennis. Many of my patients can even ski – but I don’t suggest you take it up unless you knew how to ski before your surgery. I’m not a miracle worker!