Knee Replacement - What You Should Know

Knee Pain



A knee replacement, also known as knee arthroplasty, is a surgery that replaces the knee joint to relieve knee pain caused by a host of different injuries or conditions. Though osteoarthritis is one of the leading reasons for a knee replacement, patients with conditions such as avascular necrosis and rheumatoid arthritis could be a candidate for knee replacement surgery.



What is a Knee Replacement Made of? 

The artificial joint your knee is replaced with consists of a combination of metal and plastic. Cobalt, chromium, and titanium are a few of the materials used during a knee replacement surgery at Elite Sports Medicine. You can learn more about the materials used at DePuy Synthes.



What Kind of Doctor Performs Knee Replacement Surgery? 

An orthopedic joint replacement specialist performs knee replacement surgery. Elite’s knee replacement doctors in Nashville, TN are fellowship trained.



Are There Knee Replacement Alternatives? 


Our knee replacement doctors in Nashville and Franklin, TN always start patients with the most conservative treatments before going a more invasive route. If your pain is mild, anti-inflammatory (NSAID’s) medications, physical therapy, and resting will be the go-to treatment to manage pain. Our physical therapists will also try treatments like dry needling for pain management.

Your knee replacement doctor will determine if the arthritis or condition in your knee has gotten to a point where a knee replacement is necessary based off your imaging (X-Ray /MRI). If you are unsure about having a joint replacement, ask your knee replacement specialist if there is an alternative to a knee replacement for you.



What are my Surgical Options? 

There are several surgical options for patients with arthritis. Speak with a knee replacement doctor near you to learn more about potential treatment options.

Total Knee Replacement 

A total knee replacement removes all weight bearing parts of the knee joint and is replaced with an artificial joint. This surgery is performed when patients are no longer able to perform their daily activities comfortably and all other conservative treatment options have been done without success.

Unicondylar Knee Replacement (Partial Knee Replacement) 

Unicondylar Knee Replacement is when only a part of the knee joint is replaced through a smaller incision than would normally be used for a total knee replacement. This surgery is an option for patients whose osteoarthritis is only affecting a specific part of the joint. Patients are off an assistive device after 2-3 weeks, start exercising around 6 weeks and are good to go around 12 weeks.

Dr. Brian Dierckman sees patients who are candidates for a partial knee replacement. He specializes in surgery of the knee, hip, and shoulder.



Knee Replacement Revision 

There are several factors that could lead to needing a knee replacement revision. If you received a knee replacement at an earlier age the joints replaced may need revisions later in life. The new materials can safely last around 15 years. If you begin to experience pain after a knee replacement, it may be time for a revision. Other factors such as patients who are avid runners can lead to a revision due to the added stress on the joint.

At Elite, we must have record reviews before going forward with a knee replacement revision. If you believe you may need a knee replacement revision, call our scheduling line at 615.324.1600 to see what you need before scheduling an appointment.



Can I Have Outpatient Surgery? 

Outpatient surgeries are possible for patients who are eligible. Patients who are nondiabetic, have no previous heart issues, or are younger / healthier patients may be able to have an outpatient surgery.

This means you can leave the same day instead of staying overnight in the hospital. Your knee surgeon will be able to determine if this is a possibility for you.

At Elite, we are doing more outpatient surgeries due to seeing a wave of younger healthier patients needing a replacement.



How Long Will I Need Pain Medication After my Surgery? 

The average patient is on pain medication for 4 weeks, depending on the level of pain, which is different patient to patient. It could be up to 6 weeks or less than 4 weeks. It is important to remember that you are not able to drive while on pain medication, therefore you will need to prepare for this before surgery. If you have any questions about pain medication, it is vital to speak with you doctor to be aware of the side effects.



Other Things to Know 

Showering After Knee Replacement 

You can shower the same day as your knee replacement. You will not be able to submerge the knee in water or take a bath for several weeks, depending on what your knee surgeon recommends. You can also talk with your physical therapist about aftercare at your post-op physical therapy appointments. Our physical therapists work closely with the same doctor you had a knee replacement with, so any questions you have during PT can be communicated with your doctor easily.


Running After Knee Replacement 

It can take up to a full year to recover from your knee replacement. Though patients start to see recovery around the 3-month mark, it is totally possible to run after a knee replacement. Keep in mind that exercises like running that put stress on the joint make it more likely to have a knee replacement revision in the future. However, if running is something that makes you happy and is a huge part of your life, we encourage you to continue running and focus on your quality of life.


Is It Possible to Have a Bad Surgery? 

Any type of surgery has the possibility of being a “bad” surgery. It is important to find an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knee replacements. Our knee replacement doctors in Nashville, TN are specialists in the surgery, meaning they have extensive training and years of experience in the field. Dr. Gregory Raab specializes in total joint replacement, specifically in the knee and hip. He has consistently been named a Nashville Top Doctor by Nashville Lifestyles Magazine since 2016.


Possible Side Effects 

As with any surgery, there is always a risk of bleeding, infection, need for revision, and bone break down over time and / or fractures. If you have any questions about side effects, you can talk with your doctor in office at your appointment. They will make these side effects clear and point you to important resources to help prevent them.


Is Drainage Normal After Surgery?

There should not be drainage. If there is, the doctor needs to know as soon as possible. At Elite, we do not use staples or glue. All sutures will dissolve on their own with time. Your physical therapist will help you with making sure your scar and sutures are healing properly. It is important to keep the area clean and follow the aftercare instructions given by your knee surgeon.


Prehab Exercises 

If you are scheduled for surgery 3 weeks out it may not be enough time to make a difference in the outcome of your surgery or recovery. However, if you have around 6 weeks before your knee replacement surgery it could be to your advantage to start prehab exercises. Anything that will help build strength in the quad muscles is a good exercise before knee replacement surgery. Exercises like cycling, water aerobics, knee extension / resistant band exercises are great options.



For more information about knee replacement surgery, speak with a knee replacement specialist near you. Call our office or book online to visit one of our Franklin or Nashville knee replacement doctors.

Cassie Whittaker Cassie is the Communications Coordinator for Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. She has been writing and reviewing medical content since 2020.

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