Chronic knee pain? It may be time for a knee replacement.

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Posted: November 27, 2019

November 27, 2019
Contact: Mary Marx, Director of Marketing & Communications

Chronic knee pain? It may be time for a knee replacement.

Rick Wilkerson, D.O., is Decorah’s newest orthopedic surgeon. With extensive experience in joint replacements, Dr. Wilkerson answers questions about one of the most common procedures: a knee replacement.

Q. Why do people get knee replacements?
A. Typically, chronic knee pain is the result of arthritis (osteoarthritis due to age, rheumatoid arthritis, or post-traumatic arthritis following a serious knee injury). Over time, the cartilage cushioning the bones in the knee deteriorates, causing bone-on-bone friction when the joint moves. This can lead to pain when walking or resting, depending on the severity of the arthritis. A knee replacement, or a knee arthroplasty, is an effective treatment option for chronic knee pain if medication, injections or physical therapy do not provide sufficient relief. There is no “right age” for a knee replacement; recommendations for surgery depend on a patient’s pain level and how it is affecting his/her quality of life. Patients should work with their primary care provider and an orthopedic surgeon to determine the best treatment plan for their needs.
Q. What happens during a knee replacement?
A. Your orthopedic surgeon will replace the deteriorated cartilage and surface bones with a metal implant and plastic spacer to artificially create the space your knee joint needs to move. The surgery is usually performed under spinal, regional or general anesthesia, and takes 1-2 hours. Prior to surgery, patients should complete any needed dental work and be evaluated for urinary infections to reduce the risk of complications.
Q. What is the treatment and recovery?
A. Usually, patients will spend one-two days in the hospital following a knee replacement. During that time, your orthopedic surgeon and inpatient nurses will care for the wound site, help manage post-surgical pain levels, and monitor for infection, blood clots and/or other risk factors. Soon after surgery (in some cases, the same day) physical therapists will begin exercises with you to strengthen your leg and restore knee movement. You will continue these exercises after you leave the hospital, under the on-going care of your physical therapy team. In 4-6 weeks, most patients have returned to their normal abilities, but without pre-surgery pain levels. At one year, you will have reached maximum medical improvement. It is important have realistic expectations of a knee replacement; patients will not be able to do activities they could not do prior to developing arthritis. Patients should also avoid high-impact activities like running, jogging or jumping after surgery to prolong the effectiveness of the knee implant.

Make an appointment
Dr. Wilkerson is an experienced, proven orthopedic surgeon who has special interest in joint replacements and sports medicine surgical care. He performs hip, knee and shoulder replacements, all sports medicine procedures including ACL reconstruction surgery, pediatric orthopedic surgery, hand procedures, fracture repair and more. Dr. Wilkerson comes to Winneshiek Medical Center after 30+ years building a successful practice of eight orthopedic surgeons in Spencer, Iowa.

The Winneshiek Medical Center orthopedic practice is supported by the latest in MRI technology, quality skilled care for recovery, and the most specialized physical and occupational therapy practice in the region for successful rehabilitation.

Dr. Wilkerson’s schedule is open and he is accepting new patients at Winneshiek Medical Center. To make an appointment with Dr. Wilkerson, call 563-382-2911.