Ask an Orthopedic Surgeon: ACL, Knee Replacement, and Shoulder Surgeries with Vail Knee Doctor Bill Sterett
Hello and welcome to this week's post on #thekneedoctor. I've been receiving quite a few thoughtful questions via email and social media, so I thought I'd tackle a few here today.
Many of you who are dealing with injuries are not alone in facing these setbacks, and despite the fact that every person's particular issue will effect them differently, everyone's human body will be similar from an anatomical standpoint, so my general answers here today to some of the most popular questions should hold some value even if you're wondering about specific injuries, rehab and recovery time, etc.
Let's get started!
"Hi, Dr Sterett, I've been considering a knee replacement, but wondering about recovery time. Can you talk a bit on this?"
Let's start by qualifying this: recovery is certainly based on quite a few factors, including age, activity levels pre-surgery, and other circumstances surrounding the surgery.
Having said that, it's standard to begin rehabilitation of some sort directly after surgery. (Here's a very comprehensive look at the rehab process from healthline.com), in which they accurately state that you should be well on your way to recovery 13 weeks after your surgery, and if all goes well, you should be feeling back up to full speed (or better) after a year, tops.
All in all, having a knee replacement and going through rehabilitation would never be misconstrued as a "fun" process, but with a can-do attitude and a little hard work, it's pretty amazing that we have the expertise and technology to get you a new knee, isn't it?
"I'm having some knee pain but unsure of the root cause. It's been hurting for a couple of dayS...at what point should I visit a doctor?"
Thanks for the question. Firstly, if you have knee pain, there are a couple of easy steps you can take in attempt to alleviate it, and, in turn, evaluate what your next move should be. These are simple:
- Get off your knee and give if some rest.
- Ice your knee to combat swelling and pain.
Okay, so you've given your knee a little break and iced it down, but you are still having pain. Now's the time to apply the following guidelines:
- If you have joint paint lasting more than 48 hours, see a doctor.
- If you have swelling that lasts more than 48 hours, see a doctor.
- If you notice that your knee is unable to support your weight when you walk or stand, see a doctor.
- If your knee looks strange due to a bump or fall, see a doctor.
Of course, as physicians we certainly like to err on the side of caution, but the fact is that your body is the best indicator of what's going on. We REALLY don't like to see somebody add to an existing injury by "gutting it out" or trying to avoid the doctor's office.
We're here for a reason, and that's to get you healthy and pain-free, so if you have any doubts, contact a specialist and get yourself seen!
Hi Doc, I'm having some problems with my shoulder. Hoping I don't have a rotator cuff tear. Can you tell me what exactly that is, and some of the symptoms?
We see a bunch of these injuries to the shoulder, and they aren't just specific to athletes, unfortunately. A rotator cuff tear can result in the following:
- Direct, sudden pain.
- Weakness in the upper arm
- Trouble lifting the arm
A rotator cuff tear doesn't have to be a dramatic, sudden injury, which sometimes throws people off and results in a gradual exacerbation of the injury. The most public example of this process occurs in baseball pitchers, who sometimes pitch through shoulder pain for an entire season, resulting in surgery later on.
For a more comprehensive look at rotator cuff tears which I put together recently (including a video animation of the process), click here.
I've always wondered why female soccer players seem to injure their knees more often than the guys...especially ACL and MCL tears. Why is this?
This is a bit of a riveting topic, judging by the number of questions I receive about it. Understandably so-- there have been tons of high-profile injuries to the knees of our top female athletes. And it doesn't stop there, because even our high-schoolers and younger female athletes can be prone to ACL tears.
Understanding this, I'll soon be putting together additional resources dedicated to this topic. But for now, here's a link to an article I did on the topic a couple of months ago.
Additionally, you may want to check out the two videos below.
As always, thanks for your questions! Feel free to contact me via social media or email anytime.