So you did it… you finally committed to getting a knee replacement after months or years of pain, physical therapy, injections, and suffering.
If you are anything like the 100’s of people I have seen who have had a knee replacement, you will have some doubts and worries, and I am here to answer some of the most common questions and concerns.
1. Can I kneel, run, etc on it?
This question stems from people worrying that they are going to injure their new knee. Let me tell you, you have a wonderfully designed, very strong hunk of metal and nylon in there now. You won’t want to do heavy things on that during the initial healing phase, but there is nothing that you can’t do on it after you rehab it to 100%.
I have had patients successfully return to kneeling, biking, hiking, running, ice skating, and even rock climbing! Some of them actually began performing BETTER than they could prior to their surgery. This took a lot of work after rehab and they had to accept that doing the heaviest activities may mean they get another replacement sooner, but hey, they got the replacement to be able to continue doing what they loved to do.
Ultimately, the point is that you don’t have to worry about damaging your replacement with the light to moderate activities that MOST people want to return to doing. YOUR KNEE IS STRONG!
2. When will I ever get better? It seems like forever!
Many surgeons tend to describe a knee replacement like replacing a car part, which is terrible. That implies that you’re good to go as soon as it’s replaced, but your body needs time to heal and it needs to learn how to use a completely new joint.
I tell my patients that it takes about 3-4 months to get to 70-80% and a full year to get 100%, but that is only with a GOOD PT and with the patient working very hard. Many people get substandard PT, though. See below for what good PT really is…
Many people also don’t work as hard as they could. They usually feel 70-80% by the 4-6 month mark and 100% by the 2 year mark, if they ever get there. Many people are satisfied with 80%, and that’s ok if it meets their goals.
3. What is GOOD PT?
I had a patient who went to a local well-known and busy clinic where she was seen at the same time as 2-4 other patients every visit. She went 3 times per week for 12 weeks (36 sessions?!?), paying her copay each time (expen$ive), and it became just doing the same exercises every time, never really getting progressed.
I saw her once, about 6 months out, and we formulated a custom plan for her to address her specific goals (not just the insurance/surgeon goals of 120 degrees of motion). She still had a hard time even using stairs or getting out of a low chair!
3 weeks after that one visit, she told me she made more progress than during the 12 weeks at the other clinic!
Good PT is hard to define, but it is NOT doing the same exercises every time, sitting on ice/heat/ESTIM for much of your treatment, getting passed between multiple providers every session, or being seen at the same time as 2-4 other patients by the same therapist.
4. What if I am x months out and not where I think I should be or want to be?
Some say the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things and expect to get different results.
I would say if you aren’t doing the things you think you should be able to do, you need to CHANGE IT UP!
Consider trying a different provider or a different approach. It worked very well for the patient I mentioned above.
But, know this…
It likely won’t improve a ton if you keep doing the same thing and it likely won’t improve with only time.
And, the longer you wait to try something different, the harder it will be to get the best results.
If you are in Lee’s Summit or the surrounding suburbs of Kansas City, I’m willing to offer you either a FREE Phone Consult or you can apply for a FREE Discovery Session to see if we can help you get back to doing the things you love to do.
Just click the link above to get started.
To your continuing improvement!