Easing the recovery from knee surgery

May 5, 2011 2:54:22 PM PDT
For people who are going through the ordeal of needing a new knee, the two biggest concerns they face are usually the pain and the length of the recovery.

However, people facing knee surgery have new hope of not having to deal with the usual concerns.

Patients might now be able to have knee surgery, get better and get out of the hospital door faster than ever before.

Deborah Boise is one person going through knee pain.

"Sixteen years ago, I decided to take karate and Jujitsu when I was in my forties," Boise said.

She now has trouble doing everyday chores like cleaning her apartment, without her pesky right knee acting up. Boise blamed the strain from the karate plus arthritis for needing a new knee.

More than seven-hundred thousand people actually go through knee replacement surgery a year. The hospital recovery time for these patients is lengthy, due in part to the narcotic pain medications used in the surgeries.

Orthopedic surgeon CG Hugh Morris, MD of Florida Hospital feels the effects of the medication from knee surgery causes many effects.

"But they cause lots of other problems: nausea, confusion, a patient couldn't remember what they did in therapy the day before," Morris said.

Because of his concerns, Morris and his Florida Hospital team perfected a new surgery technique to lessen the effects that knee patients have to go through with the medications.

Surgeons place a femoral nerve block high in the thigh. This way, non-narcotic meds can be used to numb the limb and keep it that way for two days after surgery.

The result is up to a ninety-five percent reduction in post-OP pain.

"Because their pain is controlled so much better, they can do so much more with their physical therapy much earlier," Morris said.

The new method means that physical therapy which usually takes up to six months now may only take six weeks.

Boise missed out on this new method for her left knee which she got replaced years ago. However, Boise has a new outlook about getting her right knee replaced.

"There's a hope there now that I didn't have so much with the left one," she said.

Boise feels that her everyday chores such as cleaning will now be a lot easier. She is very pleased.

Although this current surgery is six years in the making, Dr. Morris' team pioneered the advanced "Nerve Block" technique in the meantime. So far, it has been used on more than one hundred patients over the past six months.