TKA - Outcomes
Following your TKA and physical therapy you may be asking: What will life look like? Typically after surgery the majority of my patients say something along the lines of: “I’m never having surgery again”. That previous sentence was not wrote to scare you. The truth is people say this initially but a few weeks later people often say something like this: “I wish I would have had this surgery months ago, yes I still have some pain, but it is much better than before surgery.” Just like with anything else in life, you have to put in effort and work hard for anything that is of value. In the case of a TKA, you have to work hard to regain your independence.
So your physical therapy is coming to a close. At this point I like to assess peoples function. I attempt to make physical therapy as “real” as possible. I ask patients: Is there something that is still very difficult to do because of your knee?” Often I get a response of “ I still struggle with walking long distances” or “ After the 3rd time up and down my stairs I have a little discomfort.” Both of these responses are normal and typically resolve with time and consistent strengthening. By the time we say our goodbyes and therapy is finished, I like to have people functioning at the level they were prior to surgery as a bare minimum. Often people are functioning at a higher level and with less pain as compared to their state prior to surgery.
If I had to summarize, I would tell you this: You may still have occasional aches (not pain like you had prior to surgery) and this is okay. I would expect you to be moving with minimal difficulty and participating in everyday activities that you enjoy doing, whether it be gardening or riding your bike, or even hiking. The goal of having surgery is to make you feel better and although this particular surgery is difficult at times and requires a lot of effort, you should feel better and return to living your life as you normally would.
This is the last of 3 blog posts regarding total knee replacements. I urge you to take the information you have learned and better yourself. Whether you are a clinician looking for advice/ideas, a soon to be patient, or family member looking to support your loved one, take this information and apply it. If you have questions or concerns, it is always best to seek further information and/or schedule to meet with your physician/physical therapist. As always, I will pride myself on accurate information and the most up to date treatments to serve you and better everyone’s health care.
Jake Miller, PTA