Surgeon Reveals Steps That Speed Up Recovery and Ensure Lasting Results After Knee Replacement
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Knee replacement is still one of the most common orthopedic surgeries. However, to protect the new prosthesis post-op and recover faster, orthopedic patients need to have certain pre-surgery examinations and not rush into high-impact activities after the procedure.
April 4, 2022. The demand for knee replacement surgeries continues to surge with over 700Korthopedic surgeries performed in the U.S. alone each year. However, the rising numbers of the procedure also call for making sure people are able to benefit from a well-functioning prosthetic joint and improved quality of life for long years.
Prof. Sarunas Tarasevicius, a surgeon at Nordorthopaedics Clinic, a leading international orthopedic center in Kaunas, Lithuania, offered insights for orthopedic patients on what speeds up post-op recovery and how to take care of the new joint.
Pre-surgical examinations—the first step to a speedy recovery
The surgeon emphasized the importance of pre-op examinations that contribute to a fast post-surgical recovery and a longer prosthesis life. One of these measures for primary or revision knee replacement surgery is long-standing X-rays—an examination of the entire limb with a fully extended knee joint.
According to prof. Sarunas Tarasevicius, this type of examination allows the surgeon to have a better view of the mechanical axis and gives the idea of how to restore it. At the same time, it helps the surgeon to make more precise cuts, resulting in a much more accurate reconstruction of the knee.
What (not) to do after knee replacement surgery
People who undergo knee replacement procedures should be aware that the longevity of their new prosthetic joint and overall post-op well-being depends largely on individual recovery plans. The surgeon’s first advice is to be patient about the recovery and not to rush the healing process.
“The surgery reduces the knee pain but the recovery is quite long, and the first three months post-surgery might be quite difficult for a person—they might experience some swelling, redness, certain levels of pain, and some mobility issues,” prof. Sarunas Tarasevicius said.
However, the discomfort is temporary as soft tissues surrounding the knee require time to adapt to the prosthesis. Therefore, on the first days after the surgery, the person should actively control pain and swelling, and keep the operated limb extended and elevated when sitting. Afterward, they should slowly ease into active knee flexion and extensions exercises. Also, it is important to build self-confidence in walking with crutches so as to incorporate daily exercises and speed up the recovery process.
At the same time, orthopedic patients should avoid certain activities that might reduce the implant functioning period—high-impact sports involving jumping up, landing, and pivoting. Also, the surgeon urged orthopedic patients to keep up with their physiotherapy sessions.
“Foregoing physiotherapy is one of the biggest mistakes after knee replacement surgery, and, unfortunately, many people are guilty of this due to pain and reduced mobility,” prof. Sarunas Tarasevicius added. “However, continuous range of motion in the knee joint highly affects the well-being and successful results after the procedure. When the knee joint is not flexed enough, it causes scarring and painful joint contractures.”
Therefore, to prolong the implant's functioning duration, the surgeon urged to continue with life-long muscle strengthening exercises that keep the muscles moving and help the new implant to work better. However, before engaging in any physical activity after knee replacement surgery, people should consult with their physicians.