As an orthopaedic surgeon and a specialist in joint replacement, I have had the privilege of treating thousands of patients with knee arthritis and to see them make dramatic improvements. Often, their arthritis is severe enough to need knee replacement and I have to remind myself what a big decision it is to proceed with surgery. It's crucial for me to provide them with a great deal of education so they can make an informed decision about their treatment.
While knee replacement can make a dramatic difference in a patient's life, it is also a challenging procedure to recover from and can take a great deal of time and effort to get the best results. One of the most important roles I can play in shepherding patients through the process is to mange their expectations. They have to understand what are realistic results, and what their lives will be like when their knee has healed. Some of the most common questions I hear are: How long will I take to recover? How much pain will I be in and what kind of complications can occur? What will I be able to do after my knee is done healing? I take the responsibility of informing patients very seriously and try to make sure they have as much information as possible. So what do I tell patients who are interested in knee replacement? First of all, I reassure them that the process is not as bad as they are expecting. They often know people who have had a tough time recovering and aren't happy with their results. With the advances in patient-matched implant design, like the Conformis iTotal, better anesthesia and advanced physical therapy techniques, patients are recovering quicker and achieve much better results than in the past. Most of our patients are able to take advantage of preoperative physical therapy and classes before surgery that help prepare them for what to expect. We teach them about possible complications like infection and blood clots, but they are gratified to know the lengths we go to to prevent them and the treatments that can help resolve them if they occur.