Total Knee Replacements – What are the outcomes like?

We recently attended a Knee convention in London organised by some of the country’s top private orthopaedic knee surgeons. Amongst one of the things covered, was the latest research indicating patient satisfaction levels post-surgery.

The surgeons highlighted the biggest issue in the ‘Total Knee Replacement world’ so to speak, and that is up to 20% of patients will be dissatisfied with the outcome of their joint replacement. This level of patient satisfaction is alarming, and considering how the number of TKR’s is expected to sky rocket in the UK by 2030, there is a lot of work ahead.

In these surveys completed by patients, the main complaints were pain levels, movement restrictions, time of recovery period, and alterations to walking patterns. At the convention the consultants proposed some fascinating new ideas about how the world of orthopaedic knee surgery is growing and evolving, which will have a blog all to itself in the coming weeks. But for now, one of the things we can do to improve patient satisfaction levels is to make sure patients are receiving the timely and specialised rehabilitation that a joint replacement deserves.

Due to the latest developments in pain science, we now know that pain is not a reliable indicator of tissue damage, and they do not necessarily correlate with one another. So for example someone could have extensive tissue damage, and yet feel very little or no pain, or they could have no tissue damage and describe a severe 10/10 pain.

Pain is multi-factorial.

That means yes of course there are biological aspects to pain, possibly none more so than after a joint replacement, an undoubted stress on the nervous system. But there are also psychological aspects that contribute to pain. These include anxiety levels, patient expectations, previous experience in hospitals or with operations, and many, many more. Pain also includes a social aspect, so for example someone who is going home to live alone and has a small pool of friends and available helpers, may be more prone to experience higher pain levels  than someone who is at home surrounded by family, with the regular input of a health professional, and with a good supportive network of people around them.

So it seems that pain levels, patient satisfaction, and overall outcomes have a lot of contributing factors.

Ensuring that you have as much information pre-operation is key. If someone has walked you through the process, informed you of ‘typical’ worries and obstacles, helped educate you on what to expect in terms of pain post operation etc., all of these play a key part in getting you ready for surgery.

Then following the operation, the guidance of an experienced therapist can be crucial. Helping to answer any questions you may have, to keep you motivated, to progress your exercises gradually, and to help push and motivate you at the right times, can all help with overall patient satisfaction.

So in summary, until the latest developments in orthopaedic surgery are more widely accessible and well known, what we can do to improve a patient’s satisfaction level following a TKR is to provide the correct information, to educate, and to have access to an experienced therapist that you can trust.

Once all those have been added to the equation, we are sure patient satisfactions levels will continue to climb.

If you would like more information or would like to speak to one of our therapists, you can email us at info@postophomephysio.com

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