Fear and Pain? The Decision To Replace That Bum Knee
I've had several friends who have total knee replacement surgery (guess that means I'm officially old, haha).
The truth of the matter is that our bodies have parts that wear out. And as Americans live longer and longer, it's becoming less acceptable to "just live with the pain."
One of the most common surgeries for those in their 60s (I'm not there yet!) is total knee replacement surgery. This is a drastic and scary proposition, but there are a number of reasons why making the decision to get the surgery is a wise one. From the website BoneSmart.com:
"The risks related to delaying knee replacement surgery often involve the deterioration of the joint, increased pain, and lack of mobility. For many of the reasons, patients sometimes consciously delay their knee replacement surgery, which can have some of these risks:
- risk of deformities developing inside and outside the joint
- risk of muscles, ligaments and other structures becoming weak and losing function
- increased pain / inability to manage pain
- increased disability/lack of mobility
- difficulty with normal activities of daily living"
Knee replacement is a surgical procedure to resurface a knee damaged by arthritis. Usually metal and plastic parts are used to cap the ends of the bones forming the knee joint, along with the kneecap.
Is it risky?
According to healthpartners.com, the answer is a resounding no.
"Complications are very rare. In fact, various studies show that over 95% of patients recover from knee replacement surgery without any complications."
The truth of the matter is that the physical therapy and "pushing through the pain" is by far the hardest part.
"You really need to consider the end goal," said recent total knee replacement patient Doug Hamilton. "If you want that mobility back, if you want to return to normal, you'll do what needs to be done."
According to Dr. Edwin P. Su, "The biggest challenge in the early recovery of a TKR (up to 3 months postoperative) is the regaining of knee motion."
But Su said the biggest key is just getting out and putting the knee to work.
"I recommend that you walk as much as you feel comfortable (at least 2-3 times a day), trying to walk a little further each time," he said. "Many patients will have to work on bending their knee while walking, so some therapists will recommend exaggerating this motion by 'marching.' Equally important is the full extension of the knee with walking, so try to fully straighten the knee when you propel yourself forward."
So is it worth doing?
"After the TKR procedure, all symptoms were improved significantly. The TKR procedure can improve the quality of life for patients, which can be detected for several months after the procedure. Function and pain are the most critical indicators of improvement in quality of life"
In other words, if you're on the fence on this one, just do it. You won't regret it.
READ MORE: 10 free apps to help you get fit in our new normal