Our knees are an important part of our bodies. They allow us to properly run, jump, and walk, as well as much more complicated things such as playing basketball or soccer. As the knee connects the thigh and the lower leg together, it also acts as a sort of shock absorber for the body. When you jump, your knees typically bend a bit to absorb the shock of your feet hitting the ground. Not only does the knee absorb shock from jumping and running, but it also carries the weight of the upper body. This is why we often run into pain in our knees…
For those of us who are a bit over weight, the extra pressure can multiply rapidly! According to the Arthritis Foundation, for every pound of excess weight, it adds about four pounds of extra pressure on the knees. Putting that into perspective, let’s say I’m 40 pounds overweight; this excess weight equals out to about 160 extra pounds of pressure that I’m putting on my knees every time I stand! This can lead to severe knee pain and even reconstructive surgery.
According to UpToDate.com, a supporting website research clinicians can trust, there are about 700,000 knee replacement surgeries performed annually in the United States. Written in 2017, the report projected that the number of procedures is likely to increase to nearly 3.5 million operations a year by 2030. That’s a lot of surgeries!
With thousands of knee replacement surgeries happening each year, what is the process that one of these thousands of patients has to go through to get their knee replaced? UpToDate.com also gives a brief description of the average knee replacement surgery and rehabilitation. Typically, the surgery itself will take around two to three hours. After which, you will be monitored in a recovery area for a few hours while the anesthesia wears off. Once you are clear of the anesthesia, you may be required to stay in the hospital for a few days. You will also most-likely be required to take some pain medicine, as well as medicine to reduce the risk of blood clots in your leg for a time after the surgery. You may also receive (or have to go buy beforehand) a compression boot to wear while lying down at the hospital as another method for preventing blood clots in the leg.
Usually, knee replacement patients are told to try and begin rehab as quickly as possible. Movement and physical therapy are an important part of the recovery process; your body needs to get used to the new knee, as well as regain strength and mobility within the knee. It can take up to three or six weeks after surgery to be able to resume normal day to day activities, though it could take several months of rehabilitation in order to live out a more active life style. After knee replacement surgery, rough sports such as football and soccer are not recommended, as these could damage your knee once again. However, this should not keep you from being able to go on walks or enjoy swimming on a nice summer day.
While working through physical therapy and rehabilitation, cryotherapy, or cooling therapy, is a great way to reduce some of the inflammation and swelling that will occur. Swelling and inflammation are the body’s natural response to injury but they can sometimes cause damage when the body applies too much of either. Cryotherapy is great for keeping light pain away after a tough therapy session. Not a lot of need for pain medication when icing can do the trick! Using cryotherapy for 15-20 minutes can be of great help!