Whether your knee was injured in an accident or worn down from excessive use or arthritis, dealing with a problematic knee joint can wreak havoc on your physical and emotional well-being. Managing your pain and discomfort with prescription medications is possible, but finding relief in a more permanent fashion may require surgery. An estimated 700,000 knee replacement procedures are performed each year in the United States, making it one of the most popular treatments for damage to the knee. While they are common, knee replacements should be taken seriously. If you are considering a knee replacement surgery, full understanding of the procedure is imperative. Asking your doctor the following questions will ensure you understand and are prepared for knee surgery.

Which Type of Knee Replacement Is Right?

Most people are surprised to learn there are different types of knee replacement surgeries. Your doctor will offer advice on the best option for your specific needs. To understand the different procedures, you must understand the three components of the knee.

The medial (or interior) compartment, the lateral (or exterior), and the patellofemoral (or front of the knee) may all be affected by arthritis. A series of x-rays can determine which part is inflamed and irritated due to arthritis.

If all three compartments of the knee are damaged, a total knee replacement surgery will be necessary. However, if only one or two sections of the knee are damaged, a partial knee replacement will be recommended.

During a total knee replacement, your surgeon will remove the damaged components of your knee joint and connecting ligaments. Then, prosthetic components are placed to restore the knee's function. In a partial knee replacement, only the damaged components are replaced.

How Long Is Recovery?

The amount of time you will spend in recovery depends on a few factors, including your overall health, the severity of damage to your knee, and the type of surgery.

Obviously, replacing all three components and connecting ligaments during a total replacement surgery will require more recovery time. Partial knee replacements are still invasive surgeries, but recovery will be a little easier. On average, you expect to return to normal activities within 6 to 8 weeks after a partial knee replacement surgery.

Your recovery will require a great deal of motivation and patience, especially since your doctor will ask you to get up and walk immediately after waking from surgery. A physical therapist will help you get up from your bed and walk a few steps using assistive devices, such as a walker, crutches, or a cane.

Unless there are complications, you will most likely go home the day after your surgery. Each day while at home, you should increase the number of steps you can walk with and without an assistive device. In addition, you should work with a physical therapist to strengthen your new knee joint using low-impact exercises.

Your recovery will also consist of caring for your incision. Before bathing, wrap the knee in plastic wrap. This will ensure the bandage stays dry, reducing any contact between your incision and water, soap, and dirt.

Changing your bandage and cleaning around the incision will also be necessary. Make sure your hands are clean before removing the bandage. Then, use alcohol wipes to clean around the incision. Your doctor may also suggest an antibacterial ointment to apply to your wound. Proper care of your wound will reduce the risk of infections.

Will Future Surgeries Be Necessary?

If you are worried about the possibility of knee damage after your surgery, ask your doctor about the risks. Most total knee replacements offer a permanent restoration. However, if constant stress to the knee joint occurs, further restorative surgeries may be necessary in the future.

Unless you are a professional athlete or use your knee joint continuously through the day, you should not have to worry about future medical issues involving the knee.

Before you undergo an invasive procedure to restore your knee back to a healthy, functional state, discuss all options with your doctor.