A growing number of individuals are undergoing knee replacement to treat osteoarthritis, also known as a ‘wear and tear’ of the joints, to reduce pain and increase mobility. In the U.S., more than 760,000 knee replacements are performed every year.¹
Many people who have had knee replacement can get back to the life they loved, being able to take walks with family and friends, travel, volunteer, climb stairs and sleep with less pain.
Yet, even after conservative options like pain medicine or knee injections no longer provide relief, many with severe joint pain delay knee replacement surgery. They may have concerns about how painful the procedure will be, and whether mobility will be regained. Or they may have heard stories about painful and difficult recovery after surgery.
Knee replacement is not a quick fix, but a journey with several steps. Emotional support is important to help people through each step of their journey. And honest conversations with your surgeon can help set realistic goals.
The decision to seek surgery – support from loved ones or colleagues can help
Having conversations with your friends and loved ones about knee pain can be very helpful.
Eric Jones, a volunteer firefighter and communications technician from southern New Jersey, like many others, suffered through countless years with knee pain. Eric recalls how his lifestyle changed – “I wouldn’t go to outings. If there was walking involved, I wouldn’t walk. I stopped riding the fire truck and fighting fires, and my attitude became negative. Being in pain made me upset.”
Emotional support can come in a variety of ways. With his pain mounting, Eric remembers getting the confidence to consult a surgeon from his family and fellow firemen, “they saw me in pain and encouraged me to speak to a doctor – I wanted to get back to fighting fires, driving, back to the gym and living a normal life.”
An open dialogue with your surgeon can help set attainable goals
Today, some patients with osteoarthritis and knee pain are younger and more active. And they have heard about successful knee replacements, so they have more ambitious goals for recovery.²
Orthopaedic surgeons from across the country continue to stress the importance of having candid conversations with patients and their loved ones about surgery and recovery.
Dr. Thomas King, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has seen these changes in his own practice – “the expectations are entirely different now from what they were previously. People come in at a much earlier stage with their arthritis than they had previously.”
“So, these patients want a lot more out of life, expect a lot more for themselves. They are not willing to sit in a chair and give up activities that they enjoy.”
According to Dr. Anna Kulidjian, San Diego, California, surgery can be a sensitive topic to some, “I think expectations are a very, very personal thing. I think you have to set them based on the patient, and the patient populations you’re dealing with.”
Easier to set expectations with the ATTUNE® Knee System
With a knee system such as the ATTUNE® Knee System, surgeons find they can more effectively set expectations with their patients.
“The ATTUNE Knee has drastically changed my overall expectations with my patients, because I know the standardized result we are looking for. I know we are trying to achieve motion very early,” says Dr. Jeffrey Jaglowski, Houston, Texas.
Dr. Zachary Post, New Jersey, has become more aggressive with telling patients what they can expect, “It was not uncommon to sort of set expectations a little lower – but that has changed, I’ve taken away some previous restrictions.”
Dr. Sarkis Bedikian, Chicago, Illinois, is now more confident – “I can tell my patients they’re going to achieve less pain, their range of motion, and improve their function a lot quicker than I could before. I think it’s very important that patients want to go back to their lifestyles, whatever that may be, whether it’s work or sport. And they can do that better now.”
Conversations about recovery and rehab
Outlining the amount of work that a patient needs to do after surgery is important for a successful recovery.
Dr. Andrew Spitzer, Los Angeles, California, says, “I’ve had to sort of sit down with some patients to say, listen, this is a big operation. There’s recovery. There’s downtime. And then there’s significant effort in rehabilitation in order to maximize the result.”
The ATTUNE Knee gives surgeons the confidence to ask more of their patients during the recovery process.
“I know we are going to have a stable knee, so I am very aggressive with my physical therapy, and I like to educate my patients quite extensively on exactly what to expect and what my goals are,” says Dr. Jeffrey Jaglowski, Houston, Texas.
Positivity and support from friends and loved ones is vitally important during recovery and rehab.
Eric used positivity as a motivator during his physical therapy – “The reaction from my family is totally different. They see me happier, not in pain. We go out more. I’m more active with my nieces and nephews. And around the firehouse, it is a big change – they see me as a positive person in the firehouse.”
Eric worked hard at prescribed physical therapy and rehabilitation and then resumed work on his own at the gym to continue strengthening his knee. So far, he has had three follow-up visits with his surgeon and is doing well.
Reflecting on the past few months Eric describes what has changed, “My quality of life has changed and I’m not in pain anymore. I can do more, and my body is changing because I’m being active and losing weight. Things are getting better.”
It’s important to remember that the performance of knee replacements depends on age, weight, activity level and other factors. There are potential risks and recovery takes time. People with conditions limiting rehabilitation should not have these surgeries. Only an orthopaedic surgeon can determine if knee replacement is necessary based on an individual patient’s condition.
For more information and to hear more stories from people who have received the ATTUNE Knee, visit www.ATTUNEKnee.com.
© DePuy Synthes 2018. All rights reserved.
- 2017 GlobalData.
- Changing Demographics in Primary and Revision Total Joint Arthroplasty, 2000-2014. http://aaos2018.conferencespot.org/66451aaos-1.4066572/3-1.4073923/t002-1.4073930/a024-1.4075819/p0016-1.4076000 downloaded November 21, 2018.