Has anyone had knee replacement surgery?

My mom, a former athlete/dancer/ER nurse, has had problems with her knees for at least the past 10-15 years. Usually the pain stays for a week or so and goes away after physical therapy. Unfortunately the pain is getting more frequent and more intense. She went to the doctor yesterday and found out that all of the cartilage in her knee is gone (he gave her some kind of shot).

She said the doctor gave her three options for future treatment:

  1. Get another, stronger shot that may last a little longer.
  2. Have an arthoscopy done and “clean it up in there” (which the doctor said is temporarily effective and can’t be repeated).
  3. Go ahead and get a new patella.

My mom seems to think the knee replacement surgery would be the best option. However, she’s worried about what will happen to her own mother if she has the procedure. Grandma is 83 years old and relies on mom to take her shopping, help her run errands, etc. It’s usually a once-a-week deal, but mom’s worried that she’ll have a long recovery and won’t be able to drive for several weeks (I’d gladly help out if I didn’t live 240 miles away).

So I’d like some input from my fellow Dopers. Have any of you had knee replacement surgery? Can you tell me about your recovery, and whether the procedure helped? I’ll take feedback on other treatment methods, too. I want to find out what she can expect from various treatments so that she’ll have something done and be able to walk without pain again.

My sister in law had a double knee replacement when she was 17. She was off her feet for nearly 2 months.

Mt father had a knee replaced last year. He was walking within two days.

His replacement was an Oxford procedure, which might not yet be available in the USA, but you may want to look into it. The results were nothing short of miraculous. I do not exaggerate; he had the replacement on Tuesday, and was home and walking around Thursday morning.

My step-mother-in-law had both of hers replaced several years ago, and my father-in-law had his done last fall. They’ve both had good results, and a great deal less pain walking, but driving is an absolute no-no for quite some time (a couple of months, IIRC). That’s why my FIL missed seeing his first grandson for almost a month – he couldn’t drive. Both were walking around (presumably with a cane or something) within a few days.

Also, StepMIL mentioned that some replacements have to be replaced every 10-15 years. That’s certainly something to inquire about.

My mother has had both of her knees replaced (not at the same time though). Both times she was restricted in her activites (including driving) for quite some time. She had to be able to walk a certain distance (including stairs) before they’d let her go home. Therapy started soon after she came home, and continued for several months. She is very happy she had both done, as it has improved her quality of life considerably.

Before she had it done, she’d ask her doctor when she should have it done. He always told her, “When you need it, you’ll come and see me. Otherwise, wait as long as you can before having it done.”

My wife had one knee replaced. The surgeon explained that he really wished there was a better alternative because she was too young (she was 55!) and he only expected the replacement joint to last 10-15 years.

Like the others, she was restricted to home for about 6 weeks (and that probably was pushing it) before she could drive a car, and she needed crutches for a couple of weeks after that.

A friend of mine’s mom is on her third set of knees. I don’t know about recovery times, but I do know that every 10 years she has to go get new ones.

Thanks to everyone for the replies. I’d heard that knee replacements only last about 10-15 years, and that was one of my concerns. But it seems like people who have had the surgery are happy with the results. I think my mom would probably have the surgery if it meant she could go shopping or take care of her rose garden without being in pain, even if she had to have it done more than once.

In any case, it seems like Mom’s looking at a pretty long recovery period (she’s 59 and has fibromyalgia, but otherwise she’s in pretty good health). Of course she’s also very stubborn, so she’d probably be trying to walk after just a few days.

RickJay, I’ve never heard of the Oxford procedure before. I found a couple of good Web sites about it, and it looks like the surgery is being done in certain parts of the U.S., including central Florida. We’ll definitely be looking into this. Thanks for the info!