Arthritis can cause significant pain, but the pain isn't the extent of the damage. Over time, arthritis can wear away the cartilage inside your knee. Cartilage is necessary because it cushions your joint and prevents your bones from scraping against each other. Without sufficient cartilage, you will experience severe pain and likely be unable to use your knee normally. Cartilage doesn't grow back once it's destroyed. If your knee has been irreversibly damaged by arthritis, you may be a good candidate for knee replacement surgery. Here are a few things you can expect if you decide to undergo this procedure:
1. You will be asleep during the operation.
People often have concerns about whether they will feel pain during the procedure. Knee replacement is done using general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep throughout the operation. When you wake up, you may feel some discomfort as the anesthesia wears off. However, you will be given a prescription for pain medication that can help manage the discomfort. If you receive general anesthesia, you will need to fast the day of the surgery to reduce the risk of aspirating food into your lungs. You will also need someone to pick you up and drive you home once you're released from the hospital.
2. You will need to attend physical therapy.
Immediately following your surgery, you will need to use a walker to get around. After your doctor clears you, you'll be able to gradually return to all your normal activities. However, you will need to attend physical therapy. Your leg can lose strength during the time it's immobile, and you'll need to learn how to use your knee with your artificial replacement knee in place. Your physical therapist will work with you on stretching and strengthening your leg. The goal of post-operative physical therapy is to regain your full range of motion and eliminate pain.
3. You will experience a slow healing process.
Knee replacement is a major surgery, which means it will take your body a long time to fully heal. Don't rush the process or push yourself too much, since this can delay your healing even further. According to Arthritis Health, you should be able to drive and walk again once six weeks have passed. However, total recovery can take up to 12 months. During this time, you'll check in with your doctor at regular intervals. This will allow them to monitor your progress, ensuring that everything is healing according to plan.