Knee Conditions

When is it time to consider Knee Replacement Surgery?

Posted on: June 24th, 2021 by Our Team

How will I know I am ready for a total knee replacement?

There is a lot to think about when it comes to considering Total Knee Replacement surgery. How will you know when it is time to consider surgery? This is the probably most common question we get in regards to Knee Replacement surgery. Our answer usually is “you will know when it is time.” But, what does that mean exactly? A Total Knee Replacement is the ultimate “fix” for osteoarthritis of the knee. This does not mean, however, that just because you have osteoarthritis of the knee you immediately need a Total Knee Replacement.

There are many conservative treatment options you can try before taking that leap.

What are these options you ask? Well, there is:

  • Physical therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Injectable options (such as cortisone and hyaluronic acid)
  • Different types of knee bracing
  • Lifestyle changes (increased exercise, dietary changes, and weight loss to name a few)
  • Regenerative medicine procedures.

It may be time to think about surgery once you have tried some of the above conservative options and have not received enough of a benefit. So we come back to the initial question, “when will I know it is time?” Here are a few more questions for you to think about:

  • Are you awoken from sleep because of the pain?
  • Does the pain impact your activities of daily living?
  • Are you unable to walk more than a few blocks without stopping?
  • Has your quality of life suffered as a result of your knee pain?

If your answer is yes to one or more of these questions then it may be time to consider Knee Replacement surgery.

What is involved in the procedure?

So, you’ve made the decision to proceed with surgery. What exactly is involved in Knee Replacement surgery? The procedure will likely take place in a Hospital or in a qualified Ambulatory Surgery Center. Our surgeons operate at Sharp Grossmont and Sharp Coronado Hospitals as well as the University Ambulatory Surgery Center in La Jolla. During a Knee Replacement surgery the femur and the tibia will be resurfaced with a titanium implant.

These implants will cap the bones and create a nice smooth surface. A very strong polyethylene plastic insert will go in between the metal implants and will serve as your new cartilage. The surgery typically takes about 2-2.5 hours. You will get up and walk on your new knee shortly thereafter with the help of a skilled Physical Therapist. A large majority of our patients are now going home the same day of the procedure.

What is the implant made of and how long will it last?

The implants are made mostly of titanium with a small amount of cobalt chrome and nickel with a polyethylene plastic insert. Knee Replacements today are lasting anywhere from 15-25 years. The longevity of the implant depends on a variety of factors. Most notably body mass and high impact activities. The more weight and force you put through the implant the faster the implant can wear out. We recommend maintaining a healthy weight even after you get your knee replaced to reduce the risks of needing a revision surgery in the future.

What will the recovery be like?

Recovery is different for every patient so this can be a difficult question to answer. You may have asked friends who have had this procedure done and gotten varying answers. That is because everyone’s journey is different. What I typically tell patients is that a full recovery from this surgery takes about 3-6 months. You can expect some soreness and swelling for the first few weeks. We will give a couple different medications to help manage the pain in the immediate post-operative period.

Physical Therapy is an extremely important part of recovery from Knee Replacement Surgery. As mentioned before you will meet with a Physical Therapist the same day of the surgery. They will get you up on a walker and have you walk around on your new knee a few hours after surgery. We typically recommend getting outpatient Physical Therapy set up a few days following the surgery. Early and frequent PT is one of the most important aspects of your recovery.

How do I start the process of scheduling my Knee Replacement surgery?

We have two highly skilled surgeons Dr. Peter Hanson and Dr. Scott Hacker who perform Total Knee Replacement surgeries weekly. Get a consultation with one of these excellent doctors today by calling our office at (619) 462-3131. You can also request an appointment by visiting our website. At your first visit in our office you will likely get x-rays in our in-house radiology suite (unless you have obtained these prior to your visit). We will go in depth about the imaging findings and discuss whether a Knee Replacement is appropriate for you. If we make the joint decision to proceed with surgery you will be set up with an appointment with our Surgery Scheduler to discuss possible dates and the necessary testing required prior to surgery. We will further discuss all the details of surgery at your dedicated preoperative visit here in the office.