Suggestions for Total Knee Replacements
Before reading my list of suggestions recall that I am NOT a medical doctor, I am simply a patient who has had two total knee replacements.
However, at six weeks I asked my physical therapist how many people he had seen that were in as good or better shape than I was just six weeks after having their second total knee replacement. His answer: "None." So my conditioning and aggressive physical therapy really did pay off. I still continue aggressive workouts, including several upper body nautilus machines, but my only leg workout comes from using an elliptical machine (zero impact). My knees remain in great shape as of 2016.
- Be certain you really want a total knee replacement. Although total knee replacements have greatly improved the lives of many people, a total knee replacement is a serious operation that should not be lightly undertaken.
- Get in good physical condition. The stronger and more flexible you are before a total knee replacement, the better you will be able to handle recuperation. With strong legs your ability to walk will return sooner. With a strong upper body you will be better able to use a walker, crutches, and finally a cane. Exercise!
- Select a good doctor and a good hospital. Make certain that the doctor who does your operation(s) has done many of them before yours, and that the doctor's record and reputation are excellent. Make certain the hospital you will be at also has a good record.
- Learn about total knee replacements. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to decide about having such an operation, and the better you will be prepared to handle recuperation if you decide to go ahead. I actually watched an entire total knee replacement operation over the internet.
- Use many sources of information. Although information from your doctors and from books written by doctors should be your most trusted sources of information, look elsewhare as well. Attend a class on total knee replacements. Get advice from physical therapists. Speak with others who have had (or avoided) total knee replacements. There is a lot of information available on the internet, some by medical doctors and some by patients such as myself.
- Be prepared for and committed to hard work to recuperate. In particular, follow your doctor's orders, and work hard with your physical therapist and exercises.
- Consider using a Camoped. Traditionally, the leg having received a total knee replacement is placed in a footrest at the end of the bed, and the leg is rotated slowly for two hours three times a day. The purpose of this is to prevent adhesions, to prevent blood clots, to recover range of motion of the knee, and to rebuild muscle strength. Recently a device called a "Camoped" has become available. Instead of being a passive device, the patient has to actually rotate their knees themselves, like pedaling a low-resistance stationary bicycle. A Camoped is used for only twenty minutes three times a day. It exercises both legs.
- Understand that a long recuperation is required. I have heard patients state that they did not feel 100% normal until a year after their operation(s) for total knee replacement(s). I have recovered far faster than most patients, and still find myself impatient at times. Just plan for a few months to get back to normal.