Tackle your knee pain at NMC Health
Your knees take a beating in everyday life. They absorb the shock of walking, running, climbing up and down stairs and other physical activities. When you have knee pain, it can put a damper on your daily life. Let NMC Health help you find some relief.
What causes knee pain
Knee pain can be more than a bother sometimes, especially if you suffer from arthritis or have had a knee injury.
Your knee is the largest joint in your body and is made up of three bones coming together: your thigh bone (femur), shin bone (tibia) and your kneecap (patella). A normal knee bends easily with the help of muscles, cartilage, ligaments and tendons.
If you suffer from arthritis, your cartilage has broken down causing your thigh bone and shin bone to rub together. This could mean you need a need knee replacement.
If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the NMC Health Medical Center Emergency Department.
Knee Replacement Surgery
NMC Health is here for you with specially trained orthopedic surgeons and the latest robotic arm-assisted technology in knee replacement surgery.
A knee replacement is a metal and plastic covering that helps get rid of arthritis pain in knees that have been overused and damaged. It replaces cartilage that has worn away over the years.
Knee replacement surgery can help relieve pain and get you back to enjoying normal, everyday activities. If you have become bowlegged or knock-kneed, it can straighten your legs into a more natural position.
Depending on what shape your knee is in, you could qualify for a partial knee replacement or a total knee replacement.
Partial Knee Replacements
Sometimes, the doctor won’t need to remove the whole joint, but will only fix the part that is damaged. This is called a partial knee replacement.
For instance, patients with arthritis in one part of their knee might only need a partial joint replacement. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. J. Scott Pigg, and his team will use Mako Robotic Arm-Assisted technology to fix the diseased bone and cartilage in the part of your joint that needs it.
Total Knee Replacements
If the knee joint is damaged enough for a total knee replacement, the surgeon will remove your joint and use a prosthesis to implant an entirely new one.
Using the Mako Robotic Arm-Assisted technology, Dr. Pigg will create a personalized joint replacement surgical plan in the form of a 3D model. This model will guide him during the procedure, helping him maintain what’s left of your healthy bone and fit your replacement perfectly to you.
Are you experiencing knee pain? Are you struggling to sleep or avoiding activity due to pain? If so, speak with your doctor about your options.
Knee replacements can also help you if you have bowing in or out of your knee, or you struggle to bend or straighten your knee.
After discussing your medical history and looking at your range of motion and symptoms, your doctor may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for evaluation.
The orthopedic surgeon may request imaging tests such as an MRI to look at the joint and determine if surgery could help.
Knee replacement surgery may be recommended by an orthopedic surgeon after they look at your knee joint. There are other treatment options. These include:
- Pain medicine
- Physical therapy
- Other types of surgery
When the doctor tells you it’s time to get a knee replacement, they will also let you know if you’ll be having a partial knee replacement or a total knee replacement. For both surgeries, you’ll undergo anesthesia and will be put to sleep during the procedure. You shouldn’t be able to feel or remember any part of your surgery and may feel groggy when you wake up. Read more about what to expect with anesthesia.
For a partial knee replacement, your orthopedic surgeon will remove damaged joint material. The surgeon will then replace the portions of the joint that are diseased or injured and replace it with a prosthesis.
For a total knee replacement, the entire joint is removed, including the damaged bone. Your surgeon then implants the new knee joint into its place.
Most knee replacements take about 60-90 minutes. When the surgery is complete, the doctor will place a special bandage over your incision which you will leave on until your follow up visit.
Knee replacement surgery at NMC Health is considered an outpatient procedure. That means you will likely be back home within 24 hours of surgery. However, before you leave, you must be able to show the medical staff you can do basic daily activities such as:
- Walking with a cane, walker or crutches
- Eating, drinking or using the bathroom on your own
- Completing all prescribed exercises
- Managing your pain
Some people will stay in the hospital up to three or four days. Walking and knee movement are important to your recovery. You’ll start walking around the day after surgery. When you get up and moving, you get your blood flowing. This helps prevent blood clots and swelling from forming in your legs.
Like with any surgery, you are likely to have some pain or discomfort at the incision site. Your knee might ache and be tender or swollen. The medical staff at NMC Health will do everything they can to keep you comfortable and help promote quick healing. Most people who have a knee replacement will have little to no pain four to six weeks after surgery.
It will typically take you about four to six weeks to heal from having a knee replacement. You might still need to use a walker, cane or crutches for a few weeks after that.
Your recovery time is dependent on if you keep up with your exercises to improve your range of motion. In order to promote healing, follow the recommendations set forth by your orthopedic surgeon. Most patients should be able to do a number of physical activities such as riding a stationary bike or walking without a cane or walker three to six months after surgery. You’ll be able to drive again about three to six weeks after your knee replacement surgery.
While most people will gradually increase their level of activity, you will need to make sure to avoid any high-impact sports or activities.
If you live alone, you might want to consider a short stay in a rehabilitation center after leaving the hospital. This will depend on how you progress while you’re at the hospital.
Will I need the help of a family member or friend after my knee replacement surgery?
Yes. Someone will have to drive you home after surgery and during any time you are under the influence of narcotic pain medication. Talk to your orthopedic surgeon about when you can drive again. In some cases, doctors recommend that you do not drive for four to six weeks after surgery.
Your loved one may also help you with day-to-day activities such as getting dressed or taking a shower, if you have difficulty in doing so.
There are many factors that go into how long a knee replacement will last. Age, and the level of activity in your life can have an effect on the longevity of an implant. According to research, 82 percent of total knee replacements are still working 25 years later without the need for a second procedure. However, younger patients may need a future replacement due to their increased activity.
Yes. Physical Therapy will begin the same day as your surgery. A physical therapist will come to you and do exercises with you in your room before encouraging you to get up and move around. Once you’re discharged from the hospital, you will continue physical therapy two or three times a week for up to six to eight weeks.
As with any surgery, there are a number of risk factors you should consider:
- Blood clots
- Continued pain
- Allergic reaction to implant materials
- Knee stiffness or loss in range of motion
- Unstable or loosened implant
Your orthopedic surgeon will go over the list of any risks or complications and let you know how to prevent them. If you have any issues with your knee replacement, call your doctor immediately.
There is a risk of complications after knee replacement surgery, but they are relatively rare. Blood clots are the most common. Your doctor might have you wear support hose, use inflatable leg coverings or put you on blood thinners to prevent this. You may also be prescribed antibiotics to help prevent infection.
In order to have a knee replacement surgery at NMC Health, you must have a referral to speak with an orthopedic surgeon about your knee pain. After your surgeon determines you are a good candidate for surgery, your knee replacement surgery will be scheduled. Before your surgery, you will attend a joint education class to learn about what to expect before, during and after your knee replacement surgery. If you have questions about joint replacements at NMC Health, please call (316) 283-9977.