Preparing for knee replacement surgery

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ZIONSVILLE, Ind. (Dec. 17, 2015)-- Rita Milas has had three surgeries on her left knee and upper leg in the last 18 months. It slowed her down, but she's not alone. Thousands of patients across the country have this now common operation every year.

Candidates for knee replacement usually have stiffness and generally are over the age of 50 with severe osteoarthritis.

According to WebMD, patients who undergo the procedure should expect an 8 to 12-inch cut in the front of the knee. The damaged part of the joint is removed from the surface of the bones, and the surfaces are shaped to hold a metal or plastic artificial joint. It’s then attached to the thigh bone, shin and knee cap with cement.

Minimally-invasive surgery uses special techniques and instruments to help the surgeon perform major surgery without a large incision. Generally, the incision is three to five inches, which means less tissue damage.

This generally means less pain, decreased recovery time and better motion because of less scar tissue formation.

Milas has learned that by increasing her overall endurance and strength before her last operation, she had a better outcome and less pain after surgery.  She exercised at Zionsville Meadows Rehab Unit and concentrated on her core.

“Doing a lot of exercises for those core muscles, trying to stay as strong as possible-- also in terms of knee replacement, working on range of motion, are all important for a speedier recovery,” said Ashley Marshall of Zionsville Meadows.

The average hospital stay after knee replacement is usually three to five days. The vast majority of people who undergo the operation. Have dramatic improvement and it’s most notable a month or more after surgery.

Patients like Milas are urged to not only work on strength and conditioning before surgery, but to prepare their homes for the transition. Handles in showers, raised toilet seats, cups and dishes at eye level all make life easier.

Data does show, when patients use a formal rehab service after surgery, they generally have fewer falls, infections and trips to the hospital.

About six weeks post operatively, most patients are walking comfortably with minimal assistance.  And if muscle strength is restored with physical therapy, patients can and do enjoy most activities.

4 Your Health is presented by American Senior Communities.

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