Last week I discussed knee surgery and what comes before considering that option. This week I want to address what comes with knee surgery; the good and the bad.
As I mentioned in the last column, knee surgery typically isn’t the first option. There are many non-invasive treatments to consider, so be sure to speak with your doctor about those. However, around 90 percent of patients report significantly less pain after knee surgery, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, so it’s definitely worth considering if you are struggling with normal activities.
If you and your doctor have made the decision to move forward to knee surgery, you’ll want to be aware of what all is involved. The Joint and Spine Institute at St. Mary’s Medical Center offers a comprehensive orientation program for all patients outlining how to prepare for surgery and what to expect during and after. Therefore, I want to give you the major pros and cons.
• As I mentioned, 90 percent of patients report significantly less of pain than before surgery.
• Your new knee is a long-term solution lasting approximately 15-20 years, and most even longer. Typically, if it needs a revision, it’s just to exchange a piece of the insert, and no more bone will be removed.
• You can get back to what you love. When debilitating pain is decreased or eliminated, you can finally stop avoiding activities that you used to enjoy.
Some additional research presented at the 2014 annual meeting of American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons illustrated a 40 percent decrease in risk for heart attack and stroke in those who had knee or hip surgery compared to those who did not. The long-term side effects of chronic knee pain can be physically and emotionally crippling.
• Recovery time is significant and can be long depending on the patient. Regardless of the amount of time it takes, you will need to be committed to it, as well as therapy and follow-up appointments.
• If you are getting surgery, there is always a risk of infections or blood clots.
• Knee surgery is not magic. Though significantly decreased, you may still have some pain.
It’s your choice if you want to get a knee replacement or not. You have to weigh the pros and cons and decide if it’s the right thing for you. Luckily, it might be an easy decision since modern knee replacement technology has become incredibly sophisticated and fairly routine.
Recently I began scheduling patients for knee replacements at St. Mary’s Medical Center using the very latest in robotic-assisted knee replacement technology – the NAVIO Surgical System. Advanced training was required for this equipment and was well-worth every second! This system has decreased recovery time for my patients and has given me the ability to customize each surgery. It uses a sophisticated software program that collects precise information about each individual patient, so it is as minimally invasive as possible. I have to make far fewer incisions through muscle and tendons, and replace the exact amount of bone necessary, giving my patients their lives back as quickly as possible.
If you are interested in learning more, join me on Wednesday or Thursday, Nov. 29 or 30, from 6 to 7 p.m. I’ll be presenting a free knee pain seminar in the Education Center at St. Mary's Medical Center. Just call 816-228-5900 to register.
-- Robert F. Greiner, DO, is a board-certified Orthopedic Surgeon and can be reached at 816-317-5070 via his website at greinerorthopedics.com