I have knee pain and the doctor says I need Knee Replacement. Now what?

By Dr. Derrick Lousaing  B.Sc, M.B.B.S., F.R.C.S., (Ed), Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Dr. Derrick Lousaing

I tried the advice given to preserve my knee joints but the doctor says that it is too far gone to save. I saw the x-rays and they show bone touching bone.

That is what it feels like when I move my knee. Noise too bad and pain, especially with stairs. I even get swelling now and sometimes the knee wants to throw me down when I step a certain way. I am using the painkillers but they only give partial relief. Sometimes, it is too much and I am really scared about this operation. I hear it is painful and expensive. What to do?

Knee replacement surgery is a savior for those with advanced knee arthritis. It can take the pain away- that is its primary purpose. It also allows realignment of the knee that may have gone on to have a bow-legged or knock-kneed appearance as the cartilage covering the joint surface has worn out. Finally, with the pain gone and a well-aligned knee, walking and functioning become so much easier. You can return to your walking, shopping, exercising, dancing, you name it. You can reclaim your life.

The actual procedure will be very clearly explained by your doctor who can (and should) use images, videos, animation and X-rays to explain the process. He or she should be able to address any of your concerns. Some of the main ones are:

  1. Is it painful? – Pain management can be done by an epidural (“spinal” block) or femoral nerve block such that you don’t have pain after the procedure until the block wears off some 8-12 hours later by which time analgesia is given by tablets or injection to control the pain.
  2. Is it dangerous? – It is a major operation but is also very commonly performed with a low complication rate in the region of 2-5% with major complications being in the range of < 2%.
  3. How do I know this doctor can do the operation well?- Ask him/her what is his track record. Ask others who have had this operation at his facility, what they think about it and if they would do it again.
  4. How do I know they are using good implants in me that will last for a long time? The best implants are first world products with a proven track record. Ask which implants they are using and research it with Dr. Google or Dr. Yahoo
  5. How long will it take me to walk again? You are usually walking by Day 2 after the operation and will go on to walk independently in about 4-6 weeks time.
  6. How much will it cost?- This varies depending on your particular knee’s condition and the type of procedure that may be needed. A straightforward total knee replacement usually costs between TT$70-85,000. Options are available that make it more affordable.

At the end of the consultation, you should have a clear idea of what is wrong with your knee, the options of management, the recommended treatment, and whether or not you feel comfortable and confident going forward with this operation by this particular doctor.

For more information contact our office at (868) 628-3643 / 735-1077 or visit us online at www.faoconline.com

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