Knee FAQs

How long will I stay in the hospital?

You will likely stay in the hospital for 1 night depending on your rehabilitation protocol and how fast you progress with physical therapy. This is highly dependent upon your condition before surgery, your age, and medical problems which can slow your rehabilitation. Patients who are otherwise healthy are eligible for a rapid recovery and discharge to home the day of surgery.

When can I walk after surgery?

The goal is to get out of bed with physical therapy the day of surgery. 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.

How often will I see my surgeon after surgery?

Dr. Fischer is in charge of your care throughout your hospital stay. You can expect to see Dr. Fischer every day while you’re in the hospital recovering. Dr. Fischer will also want to see you for follow-up appointments in his clinic after you are discharged. Follow-up appointments are scheduled 2 weeks after surgery. Further appointments will be made and the timing is based on each individual's needs.

Will I need physical therapy after my knee replacement?

Yes. Physical therapy is an essential part of your recovery after knee replacement. The amount of work you put into your recovery is directly related to the performance of your joint and ultimately your satisfaction with the surgery. Physical therapy is best performed in the outpatient setting. Rarely, therapy may be performed at home with home health.

Is knee replacement very painful?

Pain management following total knee replacement has come a long way with increased use of regional nerve blocks, spinal blocks, and multimodal pain control. Total hip replacement is generally considered to be less painful than total knee replacement. Early range of motion and rapid rehabilitation protocols are also designed to reduce early stiffness and pain, making the procedure in general much less painful than in years past. You may have relatively mild pain following the procedure, or you may have a more difficult time than others. Everyone is unique and handles and perceives pain differently.

Will I need general anesthesia?

While general anesthesia is a safe option, 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. Many surgeons and anesthesiologists prefer regional anesthesia because data shows it can reduce complications and improve your recovery experience with less pain, less nausea, less narcotic medicine required, etc.

When can I take a shower or bath at home?

Showering (not submerging the wound) is typically allowed immediately after surgery with the water resistant dressing in place. When you return home, you may need special equipment, like a bath mat, hand-held showerhead or shower seat to help you shower comfortably and safely. Taking a bath (submerging the wound) is only allowed after the wound has completely healed over.

When will I be able to drive again?

You should not drive a car or other motor vehicle until Dr. Fischer has approved. You must be off pain medications before you will be cleared to drive again. In most cases, patients are able to resume driving about 4 weeks after surgery.

How should I sleep at night to keep my knee comfortable and safe?

Placing a pillow between your legs should help keep your knee comfortable and stable. You may sleep on your back or on either side, depending on what makes you most comfortable. Placing a pillow underneath your knee is not OK and can result in loss of full knee extension.

How long does it take to recover?

It can take up to 3 months for you to return to most activities, and likely 6 months to one year to fully recover to maximal strength and endurance following a knee replacement. This depends on your condition before surgery, additional medical problems, and your expectations.

How do I know if my incision is infected?

After surgery you will notice some redness, swelling and warmth around your incision. This is normal. If you experience spreading redness, increasing swelling, or persistent drainage from you incision, you may have an infection. A persistent fever greater than 101°F may also indicate infection. A Surgeon is on call 24/7 to address any questions or concerns you may have.

Why must I take antibiotics for dental work or other surgical procedures?

Taking antibiotics is a precaution to help ensure that your new artificial joint does not become infected. Additional surgeries or dental work increases the chance of infection. No matter where the infection starts, if it spreads to your new knee, the results can be serious. When artificial joints become infected, they must be removed surgically and then replaced weeks to months later. Please let your other medical providers know that you have had joint replacement.

What is the lifespan of a knee replacement?

All implants have a life expectancy that depends on several factors including the patient’s weight, activity level, quality of bone stock and compliance with the surgeon’s orders. Proper implant alignment and state of the art materials also contribute to a replaced joint's longevity. With moder bearing materials, a 20-30 year implant life is probable.

Do you use metal on metal implants?

Dr. Fischer does not use Metal on Metal implants for either knee or hip replacements. The knee implants Dr. Fischer uses are state of the art highly cross linked polyethylene (high density plastic) on cobalt chromium (metal) at each point of contact.

What if I have a nickel allergy?

Dr. Fischer has the option to use a nickel free knee replacement that avoids the potential complications to patients who are allergic or sensitive to nickel.