Total Knee Replacement Surgery
Understanding Your Artificial Knee
Having an artificial knee takes some getting used to.
Learning to Live with Your New Knee
There are many changes you must adapt to and manage in the months and years following your surgery, and, unfortunately, there’s no owner’s manual that accompanies your new knee. Recognizing potential issues and preparing for them can help boost the quality of your life.
Click “next” to learn about what you might experience with your new knee.
Clicking and Sounds from Your Knee
It’s not unusual for your artificial knee to make some popping and clicking sounds when it is in motion. This is normal and you should not be alarmed. If you have concerns about sounds the device is making, check with your doctor.
After knee replacement it is common to experience different and new sensations and feelings around your knee. You may feel some skin numbness on the outer part of your knee and have a sensation of “pins and needles” around the incision. In some cases, bumps also may appear on the skin surrounding the incision. This is common and it most of the time, does not indicate a problem. If you have reason to be concerned, don't hesitate to confirm with your doctor.
You may experience some weight gain after surgery. One study found that 66 percent of knee replacement patients gained weight—and the average gain was 14 pounds within two years after surgery. You can combat this by staying active and adhering to a healthy diet. It’s important to do your best to avoid putting on excess weight, because extra pounds place unnecessary strain on your implant.
Warmth Around the Knee
It’s normal to experience some swelling and warmth in your new knee. Some describe this as a feeling of “hotness.” This usually subsides over a period of several months. However, some patients report feeling mild warmth years later, particularly after they exercise. Icing may help reduce these sensations.
Weak or Sore Leg Muscles
You may experience soreness and weakness in your leg following surgery. Your muscles and joints need time to strengthen—especially if muscles were cut during the surgical procedure. However, your commitment to strengthen key muscles—such as your quadriceps and hamstrings—greatly influences your rehab. A University of Delaware study, for example, found that adhering to an exercise program can strengthen an artificial knee to that of a healthy adult of the same age.
Some bruising after surgery is normal. It disappears as the wound drains. However, if you are taking a blood thinner, you may experience ongoing bruising. Monitor any bruising and talk to your doctor if it doesn’t go away.
Your Knee May be Stiff
Mild to moderate stiffness isn’t unusual, particularly after exercise. Your range of motion may not be the same as before the surgery. However, stiffness usually subsides over the first year. Keep moving and stretch as instructed by your physical therapist. If you experience extreme or worsening stiffness and soreness that significantly limits the motion in your knee, check with your doctor to rule out arthrofibrosis, a rare but serious condition.
Communicate With Your Surgeon
If you’re concerned about the way your knee is functioning, speak to your surgeon. It’s critical to keep your prosthesis healthy throughout its lifespan. Getting the answers to your questions will increase your comfort level and your overall satisfaction.