What Is Knee Replacement?
What is Knee Replacement Used For?
Total knee replacement is usually used:
- To relieve pain caused by severe arthritis
- To restore function to an arthritic knee
- To correct significant deformity
- For severe patellofemoral arthritis (rarely used for this condition)
Total knee replacement may be considered when other treatments (weight loss, exercise and physical therapy, medications, injections, and bracing) have failed to relieve the pain, which must be significant and disabling.
About 82% of total knee replacements last 25 years and can be affected by a patient’s activity levels. The procedure is usually reserved for older patients who perform modest activities or younger patients with limited function due to severe arthritis.
How Do Doctors Perform Knee Replacement?
Total knee replacement is a surgical procedure performed under regional or general anesthesia.
The procedure is as follows:
- An incision is made in the front of the knee
- The lower part of the upper leg bone (distal femur) and the upper part of the lower leg bone (proximal tibia) are cut and removed
- The ends of the bone are modified so the knee replacement prosthesis can be attached in the optimal position
- The proper functioning of motion in the knee replacement is assessed and then the prosthesis is cemented into place
- The incision is repaired and the knee is bandaged and braced
- Total knee replacement surgery takes about two to three hours
- The patient is usually in recovery with observation for 24 hours
- Patients are given pain medications and cryotherapy to reduce postoperative swelling and pain
- Patients are encouraged to walk on the second day following the surgery and are usually supervised by a physiotherapist until discharge
How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Knee Replacement?
There are many factors that determine how long it takes to recover from a total knee replacement.
Patients are typically discharged from the hospital within five to 14 days after knee replacement surgery.
Short-term recovery, in which a patient can walk with minimal aid or no aid and only needs over-the-counter pain relief generally occurs within twelve weeks after surgery, and most patients can return to full normal activities within 3 to 6 months.
What are Risks and Complications of Knee Replacement?
Complications of knee replacement surgery include:
- Blood clot in the deep veins of the leg (called a deep vein thrombosis or DVT)
- Signs of infection include fever, chills, pain in the knee that gets worse suddenly, increasing redness, or swelling
- Early failure of the implant
- Need for revision surgery if the knee replacement is performed on patients younger than age 50
- Persistent pain
- Dissatisfaction with the outcome of the procedure