Knee Replacement Surgery from Dr. Joshua Thomas

We’re pleased to have Dr. Joshua Thomas, a full-time orthopedic surgeon at Glacial Ridge Health System, who performs the knee replacement procedure.

Dr. Joshua Thomas grew up in Waterford, MI, where he was first exposed to the building trades, including carpentry. He fell in love with orthopedics when he saw his first total knee replacement: “Everything you do in a total knee is what a carpenter does.” He views his work now as a combination of his love for the trades and his passion for his patients.

Dr. Thomas is a highly trained surgeon who earned his master’s degree in biomedical sciences. He completed medical school at Michigan State University and an Orthopedic Surgery Residency at McLaren Macomb Hospital in MI. Dr. Thomas then completed a rigorous one-year shoulder fellowship at Johns Hopkins University.

Reasons for the Surgery

illustration of knee replacement before and after

Knee replacement surgery replaces damaged or worn-out parts of the knee. It eases knee pain and increases its range of motion and function. The most common cause of knee replacement surgery is arthritis or a disease like gout. This pain interferes with everyday activities, like walking, bathing, cleaning, climbing stairs, and standing up from the seated position.

Knee replacement surgery is performed by resurfacing and then replacing the knee joint. The types of artificial joints and surgical techniques used in the procedure depend on your overall health, weight, age, and severity of knee arthritis.

Before surgery, you’ll need to get:

  • A physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • An electrocardiogram
  • Imaging tests like X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computed tomography scans (CT)

Imageless Navigation for Accuracy

Dr. Thomas uses Ortho Align technology to ensure the most accurate alignment of the joint replacement to its normal anatomy. The technology is a computer-based navigation system that Dr. Thomas says is 100% better than the standard instrumentation, which can be off by as much as three to five degrees. This precision reduces trauma to the bone and tissue.

Most knee replacements last 15 to 20 years. Knee replacement is a common and effective surgery; approximately 800,000 are performed each year in the U.S.

Recovery from Knee Replacement Surgery

Your well-being remains our top priority after surgery. Upon waking, our dedicated surgical team will monitor your vital signs and assess your pain level. Most patients spend one to two nights in the hospital. Drawing from his extensive experience, Dr. Thomas’ patients benefit from a reduced risk of complications and superior post-surgical outcomes.

Throughout your hospital stay, you will receive continuous monitoring of vital signs, pain management support, and intravenous antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. Additionally, you will start physical therapy during your hospital stay. Our physical and occupational therapists will guide you through tailored movements and exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee and prevent stiffness.

In addition, Dr. Thomas personally attends to his patients on the day following surgery. This allows him to assess your progress, discuss post-operative protocols in detail, and address any concerns or questions you may have. Furthermore, Dr. Thomas will demonstrate the proper technique for changing dressings, ensuring you feel confident in managing this aspect of your recovery at home.

Complete recovery may take six to twelve months. “There’s a lot that goes into knee surgery, and you must have physical therapy afterward,” says Dr. Thomas.

Non-Surgical Treatments

Before contemplating surgery, Dr. Thomas works with his patients to exhaust all available non-surgical treatments, including:

  • Activity modification
  • Gel injections
  • Assistive devices like canes and braces
  • Chiropractic
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical therapy

If these conservative treatments fail, and “the patient is at wit’s end,” says Dr. Thomas, “They’re going to get better from surgery because they’re in such pain.”

Dr. Thomas emphasizes the importance of trust, honesty, and a good doctor-patient relationship in determining a treatment plan. “If this were my mom or dad, I would ask myself, ‘What would I be doing?’ Sifting through options, it’s ultimately up to the patient what they want to do,” he says.