Understanding total knee replacement
For the uninitiated, total knee replacement or arthroplasty seeks to remove and replace damaged knee cartilage. TKR is especially useful when all non-surgical treatment fails. The knee is the joint where the tibia and fibula meet. There are several parts that promote movement, flexibility and absorb shock. The surgery replaces degraded cartilage with artificial parts. The procedure is minimally invasive with a 90% success rate. Patients undergoing surgery have to relearn using the new knee which will take some time.
The road to your first step
Long ago, knee replacements required patients to be hospitalized for a few days. Now with minimally invasive techniques, many patients can go home on the same day. But that does not mean these patients will be walking right away. The road to the first step takes some time. From week 1 to 4, the patient will undergo physical therapy and exercises to regain strength and range of motion. Standing and walking short distances will actually be possible with a walker or assistive device. These steps will gradually increase with continued rehab.
A little faster now
For the entire first month, walking is possible only with a walker or assistive device. From the second month onwards, the doctor and physical therapist will recommend walks without the device. The knee starts to feel a bit more natural. During this period, the patient should be able to walk long distances and climb stairs unassisted. Simple activities like driving can also resume during this time. This is only possible with consistency in physical therapy from the patient.
Finally moving and grooving again
Walking again is essential. But the goal of TKR is to experience less knee pain and discomfort. Patients usually need about 4 to 6 months for a full recovery. Recovery is dependant on the overall health of the patient and response to physical therapy. Walking, running, and climbing is possible again, without pain or discomfort.
Back on your feet in no time
TKR takes some adjustment to get familiarized with the new feeling. In the end, people getting surgery should expect to walk unassisted in as little as 6 to 8 weeks. Normal activities resume in as short as 4 to 6 months. If surgery is in the future, speak with a doctor about any concerns about rehabilitation. Rest assured, walking will feel like the good old days with the right aftercare.