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Maybe you're thinking: I don’t have to worry about knee pain. That’s a problem for old people. I’m fit and work out on a regular basis. Why would I worry about it now?
You're not exactly wrong. But keep in mind: Severe joint pain can affect anyone, not just the elderly. This is especially true for adults under 65. The majority of people with arthritis, in fact, fall in that age group, with osteoarthritis typically occurring after age 40.
Knee injuries, in particular, are all too common among the general public. In fact, knee pain is the second most common type of chronic pain in the United States, with one-third of Americans reporting knee pain at some point in their lives. Many are hesitant to undergo knee replacement surgeries, though, and end up not going through with the operation.
Still, knee replacements can help them—and maybe someone like you—get back on their feet and back out into the world.
Here are several types of people (personas we created, actually) who can benefit from getting knee surgery.
In his late 50s, this man has been jogging most of his life. He enjoyed running so much, he ignored the increasing pain in his right knee until he could no longer move without feeling it.
His doctor told him he had runner’s knee, which occurs when cartilage under the kneecap becomes damaged. Rather than a full knee replacement, someone in this position might qualify for a patellofemoral arthroplasty—a kneecap replacement. This procedure only replaces the surface underneath the kneecap, which would suit our jogger, since it’s the cartilage that’s the affected area.
To prepare for the procedure, our jogger would strengthen the muscles around his knee. He could perform light, 15-minute exercises twice a day in the weeks leading up to the surgery, prepped by nurses and physiotherapists, who'd guide him on how to move with crutches.
Once home and mobile, exercise is strongly encouraged for our patient, while playing contact sports is strongly discouraged. Remaining active, though, is important in adjusting to life after the operation—especially for someone active before the knee replacement.
Since retirement, a woman in her 60s has been getting her steps in by exploring hiking trails and mountains across the country. Because of the constant pressure hiking causes to her knee and the steepness of some mountain trails, she ends up rupturing her ACL, the key ligaments that help stabilize your knee joint.
For her, the best option may be a total knee replacement, since the injury affects the entire knee. The woman’s doctor advises her to reduce medications and to cut alcohol in the weeks leading up to the operation.
Recovery time takes longer than a partial knee replacement or a kneecap replacement, but she's still able to recover. With the assistance of an occupational therapist, she finds herself walking pain-free again, and will eventually be free to hike again.
A man who’s been working at his family’s moving company tears his meniscus. Years of squatting and lifting heavy couches and armoires have caught up to him, and his doctor suggests a knee replacement. He may, though, qualify for a partial knee replacement—the best option if only one side of his knee is affected. This would preserve more knee joint than a total knee replacement.
In this case, the man would undergo pre-surgical physical therapy to help prepare and strengthen his knee for the operation. He'd be kept in the hospital for a two-week recovery and, six weeks after release, would return for a post-op checkup. Once he's ready and moving like his old self again, the man can go to the park to ride bikes with his family and get the exercise he needs to work out his knee. If his knee worsens, though, he may need to undergo revision knee replacement, a procedure recommended for those who’ve had more than one knee replacement.
Are you experiencing joint pain or suffering from arthritis? Knee replacement may be an option for you. Memorial Healthcare System can get you back on your feet with proper preparation before the operation and outstanding recovery after. Visit the Memorial Joint Replacement Center to learn more.