If you’ve experienced a knee injury while working for your Georgia employer, you may need a surgery such as a total knee replacement to make a full recovery and return to work. To get the best outcome possible it’s important to know what total knee replacement is, the benefits and potential risks of the procedure, and how a knee replacement can fit into your life.
Your work history and specific knee injury will be unique to you. However, to get important treatments for your workplace injury covered by your Georgia employer it’s vital to establish a connection between your knee injury and work history. Because this process involves careful navigation of the workers’ compensation system, getting the benefits you deserve can be challenging.
We understand that your Georgia employer and the workers’ compensation system can be difficult to work with. With one of our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Gearhart Law, you can build the strongest case possible for your knee injury and get the compensation that you need most.
What is Total Knee Replacement Surgery?
A total knee replacement (TKR), also called a total knee arthroplasty (TKA), is an orthopedic surgery that involves removing damaged or worn out components of the knee joint and replacing them with artificial components known as prostheses. This procedure is most often used to address unmanageable pain and dysfunction of the knee due to problems like severe arthritis.
During a total knee replacement your surgeon will make a large incision directly over your knee, remove the damaged components of the knee joint, and replace them with prosthetic components. The new artificial joint is usually made of a combination of metal and plastic or ceramic and plastic that is very durable and long-lasting. After the knee joint has been cleaned out and replaced, the surgeon will close the incision.
Recovery time and outcomes after a total knee replacement will vary depending on your specific situation. However, many people who have a total knee replacement surgery make large improvements in mobility and strength, as well as a decrease in pain, after a few months. In many cases, patients are able to return to their everyday work and leisure activities with little to no pain or restrictions after a successful total knee replacement recovery.
What is Total Knee Replacement Used For?
A total knee replacement surgery is used to treat conditions of the knee that are causing severe pain and dysfunction or otherwise seriously limiting your quality of life. The most common conditions that can lead to a total knee replacement are advanced osteoarthritis, chondromalacia (breakdown of joint cartilage), complex fractures, or a combination of these conditions.
Severe osteoarthritis can occur in the workplace due to repetitive wear and tear during activities like heavy lifting, bending, and twisting of the knee. As arthritis progresses, the lining of the knee joint weakens and eventually results in bone-on-bone contact, which can be very painful and limiting to knee motion.
Total knee replacements are usually only recommended when more conservative treatments such as exercise, medications, or injections have been ineffective at reducing pain and improving knee function. For this reason, many doctors will recommend several other treatment options before suggesting a total knee replacement. However, with continual advancements in the methods and equipment used during a total knee replacement, this procedure can be very effective for decreasing pain and improving knee function to help you return to your normal activities.
A common alternative to a total knee replacement is a partial knee replacement. During a partial knee replacement, only one compartment or side of the knee joint is replaced. This procedure is helpful for people who have a partially healthy joint and want to avoid a total joint replacement. However, many people still opt for a total knee replacement if it is likely to be needed in the future.
Is Total Knee Replacement Safe?
The total knee replacement is a routine procedure with generally favorable outcomes, although it is a major surgery compared to other options. All surgeries carry potential risks and complications that can occur during or after the procedure, which should be carefully considered. Major risks of a total knee replacement include infection, nerve damage, and improper fit or failure of the prostheses after surgery. Your health history may make you more susceptible to certain complications, so make sure to discuss all potential risks with your doctor before deciding if a total knee replacement is right for you.
The first few weeks after total knee replacement can be very uncomfortable due to swelling and soreness in the area. Many people also experience weakness in the muscles of their knee, instability while walking, and nerve pain in the lower leg. To help protect your knee after surgery, a walker or crutches will be recommended during your initial recovery. It is also important to keep your incision area clean and dry, follow your doctor’s instructions for wound care, and adhere to any activity precautions from your surgeon.
Generally speaking, total knee replacements can last 10 to 20 years depending on your lifestyle and the type of prosthesis used. For this reason, many people wait until an older age to have a total knee replacement to reduce the odds of needing another replacement in the future. Despite these limitations, total knee replacement is still recommended commonly to help restore movement and function of the knee.
Will I Need Other Treatments?
Full recovery from a total knee replacement can be a long process, and your doctor will likely recommend other treatments after surgery to get you better outcomes.
Physical therapy is often recommended after a total knee replacement to help restore range of motion, improve strength in the knee, and reduce pain with activity. Your physical therapist will build a recovery plan for you and guide you through specific exercises, gait training, and movement training to help you achieve normal function of your knee joint.
In some cases your doctor may recommend additional treatments such as electrical stimulation, hot or cold packs, or over-the-counter medications to help manage your knee pain and improve tolerance for rehab activities. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and weight loss may be useful in improving your recovery after a total knee replacement. It’s important to talk with your doctor about your activity goals after surgery, including the duties you plan to return to at work, to create the best action plan possible.
Contact an Atlanta Injury Attorney
Our Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers at Gearhart Law Group represent victims of work-related injuries and help them get the workers’ compensation benefits that they deserve. Our lawyers understand how your employer and their workers’ compensation insurance companies will try to save money by denying or underpaying your claim. We know how to fight any objections they may have and pursue all the Georgia workers’ compensation benefits that you need. Call us now so we can evaluate your specific case and advise you of your next legal steps as well as ensuring that you are receiving the best medical care for your injuries.