Knee replacements have come a long way over the years; along with those improvements are misconceptions. Modern medicine provides methods to reduce post-surgical “down time” and in many cases, avoid surgery altogether. Take a look at some myths.
Myth: You’ve been told you have to have knee surgery.
Truth: No one should tell you this. YOU, the patient, determine the right time to select this option. Your orthopedist can show you the progression of your condition and discuss your pain level, however you make the final decision. Many times knee discomfort may be managed conservatively with options such as NSAIDS, physical therapy, strengthening, icing/heat, or injections.
Myth: Advertising shows people running and jumping after a knee replacement.
Truth: Don’t fall prey to marketing. Everyone is unique and outcomes are different based on your individual situation. Do you smoke? Diabetic? Overweight? Non-compliant with your post-surgical recommendations? Losing weight prior to surgery or following your physical therapy instructions will make all the difference in your recovery.
Myth: My knee will feel like it did when I was 17.
Truth: All surgeries require a period of adjustment in recovery. If you’re 60 years old, expecting your knee to behave as it did when you were a teen is not realistic. Since everyone is different, your recovery depends on you.
Myth: Knee replacements don’t work and I should have regenerative therapy (PRP/Stem Cells) instead.
Truth: Knee replacements have shown excellent results. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 90% of people having a knee replacement resulted in reduced pain. They are able to return to normal activities like golfing and walking that they previously gave up. While regenerative therapies are FDA approved, they aren’t the “golden ticket” you may hear in lectures touting the fountain of youth. These therapies may be helpful for some, but they do not “cure” arthritis and, they are not presently covered under insurance. They can be pricey so don’t fall prey to scare tactics. Remember, everyone is different and what works for some, won’t work for others.
Most important: Know your orthopedic surgeon; ask questions: Based on my condition, how much improvement should I realistically expect? Are there risks/complications? When can I go back to work? Drive? How many surgeries have you done? The more you know, the lower your anxiety level and the better your ability to make decisions.
Jeffrey Silverstein, MD is a Fellowship Trained and Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon with a specialty in Hip and Knee Joint Replacement.