Top 9 Questions You Should Ask About Knee Replacement Surgery

We asked Matthew Nies, M.D., one of Summit’s knee replacement specialists, what his patients ask most about total knee replacement.

What are the top knee replacement surgery questions you should ask? We talked to Summit knee replacement surgery specialist Matthew Nies, M.D., to get the answers.

Top 9 knee replacement surgery questions

When can I drive? — “You have to be off narcotics, and it has to be safe to do so. Every patient is different, so the exact time frame varies,” Dr. Nies said.

When can I go back to work? — Although it depends on the type of work you do, many people start going back to work after one to three months.

What will my new knee be like? — Patients generally report that their pain is better, but some say it doesn’t exactly feel like a normal knee. “They’re happy they had it done, but it’s different,” Dr. Nies said. As far as activities go, “You’ll be able to do the same things, but with less pain. It won’t turn the clock back 20 years, but you’ll be able to get back to your activities.”

How long will I be in the hospital? — People typically spend one night in the hospital or surgery center.

What is the recovery like? — The first six weeks can be tough, since your body is healing from surgery while you are working hard in physical therapy to get it moving.

When do I start physical therapy? — Pretty much right away, Dr. Nies said. Patients are encouraged to walk a little bit on the day of surgery, which correlates to the best long-term outcomes, and physical therapy begins within the first week as well. “It can be tough, because the time that patients just want to lie in bed and heal is the time we want them to move the knee — that first six weeks is key for reestablishing range of motion,” Dr. Nies said.

Should I get a partial knee replacement instead? — It depends on your age, the anatomy of your individual knee, and other specific factors. For patients who aren’t good candidates for a partial knee, “there is a chance of wearing out the nonreplaced part of your knee and needing a total knee a few years later,” Dr. Nies said. The best thing to do is to talk through your options with your doctor.

Is this my only option? — No. “There are lots of treatments for arthritic knees that can be considered prior to doing a total or partial knee replacement,” Dr. Nies said. They fall into four buckets:

  1. Doing nothing — Since arthritis isn’t life-threatening, treatment isn’t a must-do.
  2. “Drugstore” remedies — There are a variety of standard remedies you can do at home, including over-the-counter medicines, physical therapy, weight loss, canes, braces, crutches, topical creams, low-impact exercises, and others.
  3. Injections — These can be a good treatment for quite a while. “Some people can get relief for up to a year with an injection. If you haven’t tried them, talk with your doctor to see if it’s an option for you,” Dr. Nies said.
  4. Surgery — The final option is surgery, which will remove the arthritis.

Where can I learn more to answer my knee replacement surgery questions?  Summit Orthopedics has a new, downloadable guide for people considering total knee replacement surgery. It has everything you need to know — and best of all, it’s free!

When to seek treatment for your arthritis

Arthritis doesn’t have to spell the end of an active life. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of a select few nationally to receive The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.

Start your journey to healthier joints. Find your arthritis expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

 Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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  • Matthew S. Nies, M.D.

    “I believe in shared decision making and a conservative approach to treating hip and knee arthritis. I strive to treat all my patients like family, taking the time to walk them through their options and answering any and all questions that may arise.”

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