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Sports Medicine

Knee replacements

10/07/2009

Question:

I need knee replacement due to arthritis. The cartilage is gone, Left Knee worst than the right. I worry that when I have my left knee done, the right knee won`t be able to support me. My orthopaedist does not do both knees at once. He says recovery time is too long. My husband is insistant that I find a doctor that can do both knees at once. I am 74 yrs. old. What is your opinion on having both knees done at the same time.

Answer:

If just one of your knees is replaced, after surgery you'd initially be placing more weight on the other knee, which could potentially worsen your arthritic knee pain on the unoperated side. If both knees were replaced, there would be post-surgical knee pain on both sides. In either case, following knee replacement surgery, the harder you're able to press down onto the handles of a walker, the more weight you can thereby "off-load" from one or both knees, and as post-operative healing/recovery occurs, you'll be able to tolerate a progressively greater amount of weightbearing through your legs.

You may wish to contact other orthopedists who specialize in knee replacement surgery, who should be able to discuss with you the pros - and cons - related to replacing one knee at a time vs. both at once.

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University