Common Questions Regarding Knee Replacement

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Victor Khabie, MD, FAAOS, FACS

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Q. When is the right time to undergo a knee replacement? Can I wait?

A. You’ll know when it’s time for a knee replacement and an examination by an orthopedic surgeon should help you decide. If you’re experiencing pain that’s interfering with sleep or that’s keeping you from walking your grandson to the bus stop, you could be a candidate. But, joint replacement surgery shouldn’t be your first line of treatment and waiting is perfectly fine if your pain is under control. Typically, my patients try everything – physical therapy, elevation and rest, and even joint lubrication injections – before resorting to joint replacement.

Q. All about the surgery – from incision to pain scale – What goes on?

A. From start to finish, the procedure takes about seventy minutes. You’ll get a nerve block, spinal anesthesia and light sedation so you won’t feel pain. The arthritic regions of the knee are removed and replaced with an artificial implant. At Northern Westchester Hospital, 3D custom templates (made prior to surgery) precisely match the patient’s own anatomy and are used to place the artificial implant exactly where it needs to be. This minimally invasive technique not only makes the surgery more precise, but also less painful.

Q. How can I prep my home for recovery?

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A. Consider moving furniture, removing rugs and placing cords or wires out of the way. Make sure there’s enough room for you to comfortably move around on crutches or a walker. After your surgery, you’ll be on a regimented exercise program and physical therapy – don’t push your mobility limits. Turn your living room into a recovery area where you have things you need within arm’s reach to limit the amount of times you have to get up.

Q. What results can I expect from the surgery?

A. It’s important to have realistic expectations about what surgery can accomplish. Your new knee will mimic the movement of a natural knee, but keep in mind, it’s still an artificial substitution. It will never be the same knee you had as a teenager, but will function 100% better than a stiff and painful arthritic knee. You’ll need to work hard at physical therapy and at home following surgery. Also consider strengthening the muscles around the joint with exercise, losing weight, and quitting smoking to help ensure the best possible result.

Q. How long before I’m back to doing the things I love?

A. Typically patients resume their normal activity two months after surgery. Ease your way into it! For example, if you used to play singles tennis, you may want to take up doubles. Running can be hard on your new knee, but walking, trail hiking, golf, biking, and other lower impact exercises will be fine. If you’ve replaced the knee on your driving leg, it will be four to six weeks before you fully regain your reflexes and control in that leg for safe driving.

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Learn More About Dr. Khabie
Co-Chief of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
Co-Director, Orthopedic and Spine Institute
Director, Sports Medicine Section
Chief, Department of Surgery
Northern Westchester Hospital

Northern Westchester Hospital is a proud member of Northwell Health.

Read Past Topics from Dr. Khabie:
Robot-Assisted Partial Knee Replacement
Sports-Related Knee Injuries
Shoulder Pain — When to Seek Help
Treating Osteoarthritis without Surgery

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