Ortho Hips and Knees- Part 6

When total knee replacement is the only option

If alternative methods such as medications, injections, bracing, weight loss or exercise don’t give you relief, you may consider a total knee replacement – a TKR. These are some of the frequently asked questions regarding total knee replacement:

How long does a TKR last?

As with a total hip replacement, you have a 90-95% chance that your joint will last 10 years, and a 80-85% chance that it will last 20 years. With improvements in technology, these numbers may improve.

What types of implants are there?

Here are specific implant design terms:

Gender specific: a modified implant design that accounts for average anatomic differences between men’s and women’s knees.

Rotating platform: a plastic bearing that independently rotates on a metal tray on which it is seated.

Will I need general anesthesia?

Both hip and knee replacements can be performed under regional anesthesia. Choices for regional anesthesia include spinal anesthesia, epidural anesthesia, or one of a variety of peripheral nerve blocks. Data shows that regional anesthesia can reduce complications and improve your recovery experience with less pain, less nausea, and less narcotic medicine required.

What is minimally invasive surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery is a term that describes a combination of reducing the incision length and lessening tissue disruption beneath the incision.

How long will I stay in the hospital?

You will likely stay in the hospital for one to three days, depending on your rehabilitation protocol and how fast you progress with physical therapy.

When can I walk after surgery, and how long before I can shower?

Most people are walking with the assistance of a walker on the day after surgery, and using a cane or nothing at all by 2-3 weeks. If you have been given a standard dressing, you won’t be allowed to shower for 5-7 days.

How long does it take to recover?

It can take up to three months to return to most activities, and likely six months to a  year to fully recover following a TKR.

Will I need physical therapy, and if so, for how long?

Most people who have undergone TKR require outpatient physical therapy following surgery. A skilled therapist can accelerate the rehabilitation as well as make the process more efficient with the use of dedicated machines and therapeutic modalities. Depending on your condition before surgery, physical therapy is beneficial for up to 3 months and rarely longer. The amount of therapy needed depends upon your condition before surgery, motivation, and general health.

In our next blog, we’ll talk about the recovery period.

We at Blue Sky Therapy are ready to assist you after knee replacement therapy!

Blue Sky Therapy has a continued commitment to patient-driven quality, excellence, integrity and innovation in everything that we do. That’s why we are scrupulous about planning the treatment of each and every client, and carefully documenting the outcome!


American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons. Developed by the AAHKS Patient Education Committee. Authors: Craig J. Della Valle, MD, Frank R. DiMaio, MD, Marc W. Hungerford, MD.