If chronic knee pain is disrupting your life, knee replacement surgery may be a solution. Our patients receive expert, patient-centered care in a warm and personal environment. From pre-operative education to post-operative rehabilitation, the orthopedic specialists at Edward-Elmhurst Health are committed to improving your mobility and helping you get back to life, free from pain.

Innovative treatment options for knee issues

Physicians often recommend non-surgical therapies first before a knee replacement. Our orthopedic team will work with you to treat and potentially resolve your knee pain using physical therapy, a weight loss program if appropriate, medications, injections or other non-surgical therapies.

If non-surgical treatments aren’t successful and symptoms persist, knee surgery may be the right option for you.

At our Orthopedic Centers, our expert orthopedic surgeons use a combination of successful traditional approaches as well as the latest procedures and techniques to address knee issues and get you back on your feet again, including:

  • Total or partial knee replacement
  • Knee revision – to remove and replace a prosthesis
  • Knee reconstruction – to repair the ligament using a piece of the patient’s own tendon or a donor tendon, such as for an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear
  • Knee fracture repair – to repair broken knee caps (patella), distal femur fractures (thigh bone into the knee) and proximal tibia fractures (shin bone into the knee)
  • Treatment for periprosthetic fractures (fractures around or adjacent to a hip or knee replacement) and periprosthetic joint infection
  • Arthroscopic – for meniscal pathology, limited ligament repairs and treatment of early osteoarthritis

Who are candidates for a knee replacement?

A knee replacement is an elective procedure and it is not necessarily for every patient. Patients usually wait until they’re in their 50s and 60s to have the procedure, as a joint replacement prosthesis typically lasts about 12-20 years before it begins to wear down and possibly require another surgery.

If you decide to have a knee replacement procedure, your orthopedic surgeon will encourage you to optimize your medical conditions to be as healthy as possible prior to surgery. Certain conditions, including previous infection, diabetes, obesity and smoking, can increase the risk of complications. We will partner with you to work on quitting smoking, have you see a nutritionist to work on diet and weight loss, or do whatever it is you need to do to get healthy prior to the procedure.

How has knee replacement advanced?

Knee replacement surgery is constantly evolving. Less invasive techniques and modern implants have provided more consistent outcomes for knee replacement surgery.

Today, our surgeons use modified techniques to preserve the muscle as much as possible. We apply advancements in anesthesia and advanced pain relief options to get you up and walking sooner. Also, our rapid rehab protocols enable you to return to function quicker, and often go home instead of to a rehabilitation facility after surgery.

What is involved in a knee replacement procedure?

Think of your orthopedic surgeon as your coach throughout the process. Before the procedure, you’ll meet with your orthopedic surgeon so you know exactly what to expect from the surgery. You’ll learn about exercises you’ll need to do, and you’ll have an opportunity to meet with your physical therapist before surgery as well (called “pre-hab”).

Think of the surgery as a resurfacing of your worn out knee. Your surgeon will remove just enough bone and bad remaining cartilage to resurface your femur and tibia. The metallic implants cap off both sides of the joint and are typically made up of titanium and cobalt-chromium alloys. Between the two metal pieces, your surgeon will place a polyethylene piece that will essentially become your new cartilage. It is this piece of hardened plastic that will wear out over time and may need to be replaced 12-20 years down the road.

The duration in which the polyethylene will last is partly related to the amount of use you subject your new knee to. Low-impact activities (swimming, bicycling, walking on a treadmill or elliptical machine) and low-impact aerobics and yoga/Pilates are excellent for maintaining your health and limiting wear on the joint. Avoiding repetitive, high-impact activities is vital to getting the most out of your new knee.

The knee has three separate compartments: the inside of the knee (medial), outside (lateral) and under the knee cap (patellofemoral). Any of these parts can be replaced individually (partial replacement) or all three parts can be replaced with a total knee replacement. If you are a candidate, similar but smaller implants can be used to replace one compartment of your knee.

What is the recovery like for a knee replacement?

After a knee replacement procedure, most patients go home after 1-3 days in the hospital, but some patients may stay a little longer. We understand that each patient will recover at their own pace, and while early discharge is preferable, it is not mandated.

Once you get home is when the real work begins, and when you will truly appreciate our comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation program. Our orthopedic team will work closely with you to get you up and walking as soon as possible. But it is not a simple or easy recovery; patients must do their part.

The key is to keep moving, so the program includes a variety of range of motion exercises. It is crucial to work on both bending and straightening your knee in the first couple of weeks after surgery. While it is a relatively painful time to do so, it is also physically the easiest time to get back your range of motion. The greater the range of motion you achieve, the more you will ultimately enjoy your new knee.

While our orthopedic team will help control your pain with medication, there will be pain as you heal. Your surgeon will likely tell you that if it doesn’t hurt that much in the beginning, it probably means you aren’t pushing hard enough.

Rest assured, the first few weeks are the most crucial time (as there is less scar tissue), and patients who push hard early on are happy they did later. Early consistent use of pain medicine to maximize your rehabilitation is important. It is not until the third or fourth week after surgery that patients usually start to consider weaning off of their pain medications.

Learn more about orthopedic rehabilitation at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Why choose us for your knee replacement procedure?

Edward-Elmhurst Health provides the latest advancements for diagnosing and treating the simplest to the most complex of knee issues. We have nearly 130 doctors who specialize in orthopedic surgery and spine surgery, and many more with related subspecialties. Edward-Elmhurst Health is ranked 7th in Illinois among all health systems for total joint replacement (IHA COMPdata, 2019).

Our Orthopedic Centers offer a state-of-the-art environment with a personalized touch. We treat predominately orthopedic patients, so you will be alongside other patients going through a similar experience as you.

Throughout your care, your surgeon will work closely with you to meet your personal goals —whether that means getting back to work, resuming your fitness regimen, or playing on the ground with your kids/grandkids.

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