Symptoms & Causes of Needed a Joint Replacement
Extreme pain and stiffness are the main symptoms of a knee that needs to be replaced or repaired. When everyday activities like walking, climbing stairs, or dressing become too difficult because of pain, your primary or orthopedic doctor may recommend replacement surgery. One of the most common reasons for a joint replacement is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a disease that damages the cartilage that helps joints move smoothly. When that cartilage breaks down, the bones in the joint begin to rub against each other. This can lead to pain and stiffness.
Total vs. Partial Knee Replacment: Which surgery is right for you?
In this brief video, Dr. Bryan Jarvis discusses some factors to consider when deciding whether total or partial knee replacement is the right choice for you.
Total Knee Replacement - Post Operative FAQs
Is it normal to have swelling down my leg into my foot after my knee replacement surgery?
Yes. Swelling in the leg and foot is normal after joint replacement surgery. You can wrap the leg in an ace wrap and keep the leg elevated (above your heart). As you become more mobile, the swelling will go away, but it may take a few months to completely resolve. If you develop significant redness or pain in the calf that doesn't go away, this may be a sign of a blood clot. If this occurs, call the office immediately at (607) 734-4110.
How long is recovery after my surgery?
With total joints, you can expect to continue to improve up to about one year post operatively. Most people can do most of what they want to do at 3 months post op. However, everyone recovers differently, some quicker, and for some, it takes more time.
Is it normal to have some clicking in my knee?
It is completely normal to have some clicking post operatively. This sound is caused by a mix of scar tissue forming / remodeling, and the new materials in your knee. The sounds and sensations you experience will evolve over the first year post op, and you will get used to them.
Why can't I go to the dentist? Why do I need antibiotics after 3 months?
We require no dental work for 3 months after a total joint replacement. Anytime your gums and teeth are worked on, bacteria that live in the mouth are released into the blood system. There is a chance that they can be delivered to your new total joint and cause an infection. By abstaining from the dentist for 3 months, healing at the total joint is fairly mature and your body has a better chance of fighting any infection there. Pre-dental antibiotics is another defender to minimize the risk of these infections. Although the research is controversial on this topic, we would like to be extra careful and do everything possible to reduce the risk of infection.
Will I set off a metal detector?
Previously, surgeons would issue cards stating that patients had a total joint replacement. In today's computer age, there is no way to verify these cards are official, so as a result, we no longer routinely hand them out. If you do set off a metal detector, just inform the guard / TSA agent of your total joint location and they might ask to see your surgical scar and use the hand wand.
Do I need to worry about taking pain medications?
Absolutely. There are multiple side effects of narcotic pain medication. These medications are prescribed for immediate post-surgical pain and are utilized for brief periods of time. Although we try to minimize the length of time you are on these medications, there still is the risk of addiction. For this reason, we ask that you only take the medications when the other over-the-counter medications are not effective enough in managing your pain. We work with you to wean you off of the narcotics as soon as possible post operatively. These drugs can also cause constipation and nausea. We highly recommend adding a stool softener like Colace two times a day while you are on the narcotics, drinking lots of water, and eating a high fiber diet. It is also important to store these medications in a secure location to avoid the risk of anyone else gaining access to them.
Is it normal to have pain after the surgery?
Joint replacement is a major procedure, and post operative pain is to be expected. We utilize a "multi-modal" pain control approach for helping to keep you as comfortable as possible post operatively. Our goal is to make your pain tolerable, but there is no way to make it a pain-free experience. Most people can expect pain to be a 5 on a 1-10 pain scale. You can expect the surgical pain to rapidly improve over the first 2-4 weeks, and for many, it is far less severe than the pain caused by the deteriorating joint that was replaced.
Is it normal to have shortness of breath or chest pain after surgery?
No! If you develop either of these symptoms, call the office immediately at (607) 734-4110. If this shortness of breath or chest pain occurs during non-office hours, call 911 or go to the emergency room.