Running After Knee Replacement: Will Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery Shorten Your Timeline?

Why Knee Replacement Surgery?

Years of wear and tear or an injury can cause chronic pain and significant strain on the knees. Runners, in particular, know how damaging chronic knee pain can be, regardless of the distance. With age, knee pain can worsen and limit movement, which is why more people opt for knee replacement surgery. With knee replacement, an orthopedic surgeon removes the damaged cartilage and bone that make up the knee joint. A prosthetic made of ceramic, metal, or other materials is then inserted into the knee. Knee replacement requires downtime, especially for runners. With robotic arm-assisted surgery, this timeline shortens significantly.

Run when it’s done

A surgeon will use 1 of 2 techniques to install the prosthesis. Open surgeries were once the standard procedure, requiring the surgeon to make a large incision several inches long to access the joint. However, open surgery has more pain, large scars, and long recovery periods. Now, facilities like surgical centers use minimally invasive surgery for knee replacements. The procedure only requires 1-2 smaller incisions as the surgeon uses an arthroscope to view the joint. This technique speeds up the surgical time, causes less pain, and has high success rates. On average, a patient needs 3 months to resume everyday activities. However, running requires a much more extended recovery period. Even with minimally invasive surgery, a patient can take up to 6 months after physical therapy (PT) to run again.

Consider robotic-arm assisted surgery

Is there any way to get back to jogging or running faster? A third option, robotic-arm assisted surgery, is the answer. This procedure is an advanced form of minimally invasive surgery that uses a unique robotic arm that helps the surgeon in the operating room. The robotic arm has surgical devices to perform the procedure while the surgeon operates the device behind a console. The device also helps map out the prosthetic and surgery beforehand using 3D imaging. With the robotic arm, the surgeon is much more accurate. The procedure is also faster, with smaller incisions and a quicker recovery time.

Can robots narrow the gap?

Regardless of the type of surgery, some form of recovery is necessary. Recovery often involves pain management and PT to help improve range of motion (ROM) and strength. Doctors recommend that patients not resume contact sports, but light running is possible after initial recovery. However, some patients can take 6 months or more before resuming light running. Minimally invasive procedures, like robotic-arm surgery, can shorten the recovery time. Studies show that robotic total knee replacement resulted in fewer physical therapy visits and faster recovery. A full recovery can happen in half that time, or less, based on factors such as the patient’s previous health and fitness levels.

Make a run for it

Light jogging or short runs are still possible with a knee replacement. Reaching this stage, however, requires weeks of physical therapy. Some patients can take several months to run, shattering confidence and lowering motivation to get back on track. Robotic surgery is a better option if running again sooner is the goal. The surgery ensures the least damage to the joint while installing an accurate replacement.

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2023-04-12T20:03:21-05:00
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