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Understanding the Benefits and Challenges of Double Knee Replacement

A bi-lateral approach may shorten recovery times for the right candidates

DAYTON, Ohio (December 18, 2019) –Total knee replacement surgery can offer increased mobility and significant pain relief for those who suffer from an injured or arthritic knee joint. Though many patients may only require surgery on one joint, in many cases there are others who need to have the procedure completed on both at the same time to achieve the desired outcome.

The prospect of a double knee replacement offers long-term health benefits for those who desperately need it, but patients should consider several factors before moving forward.

“Knee replacement by itself is a major surgery,” said Richard L. Davis, II, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Premier Orthopedics. “So to undergo two knee replacements at one time is to have two major surgeries at once.  There is twice the blood loss, and twice as much stress on your body. So one of the first things to consider before having this done is the impact this will have on the overall health of the patient.”

Dr. Davis indicates that those who have a history of heart issues, heart attack, and significant coronary artery disease would not be good candidates for a bi-lateral approach because of the stress it can place upon their heart. In addition, if a person is diabetic, they would need to have that health condition well under control before being considered for a bi-lateral procedure. Prospective patients should also not have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 40, since being overweight can become a major hindrance to the rehabilitative process.

“Recovery typically lasts up to three months after the procedure is done, beginning with about six weeks of work with a physical therapist,” said Dr. Davis, who practices with Premier Physician Network. “That process simply places a lot of stress on the body, especially when we’re talking about rehabbing both knees instead of one, so the patient needs to be highly motivated to work through their therapy regimen, and be in relatively good health to begin with in order to be a good candidate.”

Typically, those needing to replace both knee joints often choose a more staggered approach by scheduling the second procedure once rehabilitation is completed on the first.  The same outcomes can be achieved, despite the recovery process taking up to twice as long.  No matter which approach is selected, there are some helpful steps that people can take to prepare their bodies for surgery.

“It’s important for total knee replacement candidates to do some type of “prehab,” so to speak,” said Matthew Lawless, MD, also an orthopedic surgeon with Premier Orthopedics. “Doing some work on the front end certainly helps with recovery.  This includes making sure you are eating healthy, keeping your BMI under 40, and not smoking.  If possible, it’s also good to exercise in a way that won’t place additional pressure on your joints such as walking or swimming in a pool or using a stationary bike.”

No matter which course of treatment is prescribed, communicating and consulting with an orthopedic specialist is crucial to achieving the best long-term results for healthy joints and overall well-being.  For more information about total knee replacement or to schedule an appointment with a Premier Physician Network physician near you, visit PremierHealth.com/MakeAnAppointment.

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