What Can I Expect With Bilateral Knee Replacement Surgery?
Having a clear understanding of what to expect with bilateral knee replacement surgery can help you prepare for the procedure and make informed decisions. This article provides an overview of bilateral knee replacement surgery, giving you an insight into the process, recovery, and rehabilitation involved.
Bilateral Knee Replacement Surgery: Expectations and Recovery Overview
Bilateral knee replacement surgery involves replacing both knee joints simultaneously. Here’s an overview of what you can generally expect with bilateral knee replacement surgery:
1. Pre-Operative Preparations
Before the surgery, you will undergo a thorough evaluation, including medical assessments, imaging tests, and discussions about the procedure.
Your surgeon will provide instructions on how to prepare, which may include:
- Adjusting medications
- Stopping certain medications
- And, fasting before the surgery
Bilateral knee replacement surgery is typically performed under general anaesthesia, which means you will be unconscious and pain-free during the procedure. The anaesthesia team will monitor you closely throughout the surgery.
3. Surgical Procedure
The surgeon will make incisions in both knees to access the knee joints. The damaged portions of the knee joints will be carefully removed and replaced with artificial implants made of metal and plastic.
The implants are designed to:
- Restore joint function
- Reduce pain
- Improve mobility
4. Hospital Stay
After surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area and then transferred to a hospital room. The length of your hospital stay will vary depending on your overall health and the specific protocols of the surgical facility. Typically, a hospital stay of a few days to a week may be expected.
5. Pain Management
You will receive pain medication to manage any discomfort or pain after the surgery. The healthcare team will closely monitor your pain levels and adjust the medication accordingly.
6. Physical Therapy And Rehabilitation
Physical therapy usually starts shortly after surgery, focusing on exercises to improve movement and promote healing. A physical therapist will guide you through exercises to regain strength, flexibility, and mobility in your knees.
The rehabilitation period may last 6 to 12 weeks, and exercises will gradually increase mobility and help with everyday activities.
Initially, you may require assistance with walking and activities of daily living. Gradually, you will progress to more independent movement and exercises. Following instructions from the physical therapist and doctor is crucial for a complete recovery.
7. Recovery And Follow-Up
The recovery period after bilateral knee replacement surgery can take several weeks to months. It generally involves a few hours in the recovery room before being moved to a hospital room.
Hospitalization typically lasts three to five days for staged double knee replacements and up to 10 days for simultaneous double knee replacements. Medications will be given to manage pain, and the doctor will monitor for any signs of infection, blood clots, or complications.
Recovery time can vary based on age and overall health, with most people recovering within 12 months.
You will gradually regain strength and mobility in your knees, but it may take time to fully resume your normal activities. Follow-up appointments with your surgeon will be scheduled to monitor your progress and address any concerns.
It’s important to note that the specifics of your surgery and recovery may vary based on individual factors, such as overall health, age, and the surgeon’s approach. Your surgeon will provide you with detailed information and instructions tailored to your specific case to ensure a smooth recovery.
Risks and Challenges of Bilateral Knee Replacement Surgery
- Infection: Risk of developing an infection at the surgical site.
- Blood clots: Possibility of blood clot formation, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
- Bleeding: Potential for excessive bleeding during or after surgery.
- Implant-related issues: Rare complications related to artificial knee implants, such as dislocation or loosening.
- Nerve or blood vessel damage: Small risk of injury to nerves or blood vessels during surgery.
- Pain and stiffness: Some patients may experience persistent pain or stiffness after surgery.
- Anaesthetic risks: General anaesthesia carries its own set of low risks, such as adverse reactions or cardiovascular complications.
It’s important to discuss these risks with your surgeon and understand the steps taken to minimize them for a successful outcome.
Bilateral knee replacement surgery offers potential relief, but realistic expectations are important. Recovery requires a commitment to therapy and following instructions. Consulting with healthcare providers is essential for understanding the benefits, risks, and individual suitability.
Q1. How long does the pain last after a double knee replacement?
Ans. The duration of pain after a double knee replacement varies, but most patients experience significant pain relief within 3-6 months. Mild discomfort or occasional pain may persist for up to a year as the body continues to heal and adapt.
Q2. What can you not do after a double knee replacement?
Ans. After a double knee replacement, you must avoid high-impact activities like running or jumping, twisting or pivoting on the knees, excessive bending or flexing, heavy lifting, and sitting on low or unstable surfaces that require significant effort to rise from.