Arthritis is a common cause of chronic knee pain, and arthritis symptoms often get worse over time. Nonsurgical treatments like medications, activity modification, and physical therapy may be effective in earlier stages of arthritis, but may not provide continued pain relief as the disease progresses. If knee pain is affecting the patient’s everyday life and nonsurgical treatments are no longer effective, knee replacement surgery may be an option.
Dr. Wathne has 25 years of experience in knee surgery, including knee replacement. He received extensive training in knee replacement surgery during his residency at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York, a facility that performs 20-30 joint replacements every day. Dr. Wathne also regularly continues his education to stay on the forefront of the latest options in knee replacement surgery. Because he is trained in multiple knee replacement techniques, he is able to choose the option that best fits the patient’s needs and lifestyle.
Candidates for Knee Replacement Surgery
Patients must undergo an evaluation with a qualified orthopaedic surgeon like Dr. Wathne to determine if they qualify for knee replacement surgery. However, if you have any of the following symptoms, you may benefit from an evaluation:
- Knee pain that is so severe, it limits your ability to do basic activities like walking or climbing stairs
- Knee pain that persists even while at rest
- Persistent swelling and/or inflammation in the knee that does not improve with nonsurgical treatments
- Deformity of the knee due to wear on the joint
- Knee arthritis symptoms that do not improve with nonsurgical treatments like medications, injections, and physical therapy
If a patient qualifies for knee replacement surgery based on their evaluation, Dr. Wathne will discuss surgical options.
Knee Replacement Procedures
During a knee replacement procedure, Dr. Wathne removes damaged cartilage and bone from the knee and places metal implants and a plastic spacer. The metal and plastic implants fit together to help mimic normal knee function.
Dr. Wathne is trained in different knee replacement procedures and techniques, which allows him to tailor his approach to fit each patient’s unique needs. Depending on the amount of arthritis damage a patient has and the location of the damage, Dr. Wathne may recommend either a total or partial knee replacement.
Partial Knee Replacement
If a patient’s arthritis damage is limited to just one side of the knee, Dr. Wathne may recommend a partial knee replacement. With a partial knee replacement, only the damaged side of the knee is replaced with implants, and the healthy bone and cartilage is preserved. This can be a great option for more active patients, as many patients report that partial knee replacements feel more “natural” than total knee replacements.
Dr. Wathne is very selective when determining whether or not a patient qualifies for a partial knee replacement; if he feels a patient may have better long-term results with a total knee replacement, he will recommend that instead. To qualify for a partial knee replacement, patients generally need to be younger, active, and maintain a healthy weight, in addition to having arthritis damage in only one side of the knee. Patients who have had their medial meniscus (the meniscus on the inner side of the knee) may develop arthritis on that side of the knee, which would make them good candidates for partial knee replacements. Because Dr. Wathne frequently treats athletes, he performs a high volume of partial knee replacements.
Total Knee Replacement
If a patient does not qualify for partial knee replacement, total knee replacement is a great option for relieving knee pain and restoring function and range of motion. With a total knee replacement, the entire joint surface of the knee is replaced with metal implants, and a plastic spacer is inserted between the metal implants to allow the new joint to glide smoothly.
Dr. Wathne works with a wide variety of knee replacement implants so that he can select the implant that best addresses the patient’s problem and fits their anatomy. This also contributes to the long-term results of the procedure.
Recovering from Knee Replacement Surgery
Most of Dr. Wathne’s patients stay in the hospital overnight after knee replacement surgery. Dr. Wathne and his team work together to ensure patients are comfortable during their stay. Patients also receive injections of long-acting pain medication around the knee, which often lasts until the following morning. Patients typically begin walking the afternoon after surgery to work on range of motion, working with a physical therapist while in the hospital.
Patients are sent home with medications to help manage pain after the effects of the injections wear off. Some patients qualify for home healthcare, though it is recommended that all patients arrange for someone to assist them while at home during that initial recovery period, even if it is just a friend or family member.
Physical therapy is an important part of the recovery process, and will help patients regain strength and range of motion in the knee. Patients typically begin physical therapy within 2-3 weeks after knee replacement surgery and work with a physical therapist for at least 6 weeks. Patients who qualify for home health can have a therapist meet with them in their home. Physical therapists are also available on-site in the same building as Dr. Wathne’s practice, which makes the process more convenient for patients with follow-up visits.
Ultimately, the recovery process is dependent on the patient’s age and level of strength. Most patients are able to walk without assistance within 3-4 weeks of surgery, and are typically cleared to drive within 3 weeks. However, patients are typically not cleared to participate in golf, sports, or other more strenuous activities for about 3 months after surgery, when they are fully healed. Dr. Wathne stresses the importance of gradually building up strength and returning to activities, as this staged process often leads to better long-term results.
Knee Replacement Surgery in Pocatello, ID
Dr. Richard Wathne is a board certified orthopaedic surgeon with 25 years of experience. He completed his residency at the Hospital for Joint Diseases, a high-volume joint replacement center, and regularly continues his education to offer patients the latest options in knee replacement surgery. He is trained in both total and partial knee replacement, as well as a variety of implant options, to recommend the surgical option best suited to each patient’s unique needs. If you think you may be a candidate for knee replacement surgery and would like an evaluation with Dr. Wathne, please call our office at (208) 233-2100 or request an appointment via our online form.