As you grow older, you may find that your knees are starting to hurt. While joint pain is not uncommon, it can begin to interfere with one’s quality of life if the knee pain continues to progress. If left untreated, it may result in the need for a knee replacement.
To learn more about knee pain and how UPMC can help patients recover and be at their best, we turned to Robert Richards Jr., MD, an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee pain at Richards Orthopaedics–UPMC in Chambersburg, Pa.
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Knee Replacement FAQs
Q: Why am I experiencing knee pain?
A: Many conditions can contribute to joint pain, such as congenital issues, developmental issues, or posttraumatic problems – meaning they have had an injury. Most of the time, though, patients are experiencing pain due to arthritis, which is a condition that usually affects most people over the age of 50 or 60. However, it’s important to note that the stage of arthritis is not dependent on age. Some people’s arthritis can be mild, while for others, it can be rather extensive and painful. You could be 50-years-old and have end-stage arthritis, or you could be in your mid-80s and just have a mild case of arthritis. Either way, we can help.
Q: What are nonsurgical treatment options?
A: While we may eventually consider a surgical approach like joint replacement, we often start with nonsurgical treatments like medication, physical therapy, injections, or bracing. In many cases, those options work wonders for patients.
Q: Does losing weight help relieve knee pain?
A: There is a direct correlation between weight loss and the arthritic condition of your hips and knees. So, it is beneficial for any patient that is overweight to try and lose weight in order to relieve the pain in their joints. In fact, UPMC hospitals require patients to be at an acceptable weight – a BMI no greater than 50 – before having a knee replacement, in order to promote positive outcomes and recovery times.
To lose weight is easy to say and hard to do, but it is important for bone and joint health. If someone is trying to lose weight but already experiencing joint pain, a low-impact exercise regimen is the way to go. Low-impact exercises – biking, using the elliptical, or swimming – allow you to burn calories, and it causes very little pain in your joints.
Q: Is arthritis gone after knee replacement?
A: Yes. A knee replacement surgery involves removal of the arthritis from your knee, and then it’s replaced by the artificial knee. The components of the artificial knee are metal and a high-density polyethylene, which is a plastic. For younger patients, we use a ceramic material, which has a much better wear ratio than the other components. The ceramic material is used in total hip replacements.
Q: How long does the new knee last?
A: Thanks to advances in technology, artificial knees should last 20 to 30 years. If patients are in their 60s or older, their new knee should last their lifetime. That’s how well the technology has developed.
Q: How long does it take to recover after surgery?
A: After you have a joint replacement surgery, you are going to need help. I usually tell patients that they will need someone to help them for two to three weeks. This is because you won’t be able to get around as easily. At home, you may have to use a walker, and you might need help getting meals or performing daily tasks. Also, you won’t be able to drive for about a month after surgery, so you’re going to need someone to drive you to physical therapy. Typically, a patient will need six to eight weeks of physical therapy after a knee replacement.
Orthopaedic Care in Central Pa
Patients don’t just receive top-notch care at Richards Orthopaedics–UPMC in Chambersburg, they become part of the family. In fact, the Richards family has been caring for patients in the area for generations.
“My father, Dr. Richards Sr., started this practice in 1953. He was the first orthopaedic surgeon in Franklin and Fulton counties, where he practiced for more than 40 years,” says Dr. Richards Jr. “I joined him here in 1983, and both of my daughters have joined since. Karli joined us at least 10 years ago, and Rebekah joined last year.”
According to Dr. Richards Jr., he primarily cares for patients with arthritis of the knees and hips, while both of his daughters – Karli Richards, DPM, and Rebekah Richards, DPM – are podiatric foot surgeons, who treat patients with foot and ankle arthritis. Robert Holzshu, DO, a sports medicine physician, is also part of the practice. “We’re a full-service facility.”
In addition to Richards Orthopaedics–UPMC, our experts throughout central Pennsylvania are well-versed in orthopaedic care. Whether you need a diagnosis for an orthopaedic injury or chronic issue, our experts offer the most advanced diagnostic and treatment options in the region. We treat a range of conditions from spine, joint, and foot injuries, as well as concussions and more using a collaborative approach to help you get back to doing what you enjoy most.
To learn more, please visit our website.
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About UPMC Orthopaedic Care
When you are dealing with bone, muscle, or joint pain, it can affect your daily life. UPMC Orthopaedic Care can help. As a national leader in advanced orthopaedic care, we diagnose and treat a full range of musculoskeletal disorders, from the acute and chronic to the common and complex. We provide access to UPMC’s vast network of support services for both surgical and nonsurgical treatments and a full continuum of care. Our multidisciplinary team of experts will work with you to develop the treatment plan that works best for you. Our care team uses the most innovative tools and techniques to provide better outcomes. We also are leaders in research and clinical trials, striving to find better ways to provide our patients care. With locations throughout our communities, you can find a provider near you.