Total Knee Replacements

What is a total knee replacement?

A total knee replacement is a procedure in which the arthritic surface of the knee joint is replaced with prosthetic components made of materials such as metal and plastic (polyethylene). This procedure is also known as a total knee arthroplasty.

How does the procedure work?

During the procedure, your orthopaedic surgeon will remove the damaged surface of the joint and replace it with the prosthetic components. The prosthesis is secured with surgical cement which acts as a grouting between it and the bone. The end of the thighbone (femur) is replaced with a metal component, while the upper end of the lower leg (tibia) is replaced with a metal tray and plastic (polyethylene) insert.

Do I need a total knee replacement?

Your orthopaedic surgeon may recommend a total knee replacement if you suffer from chronic knee pain, and if you have been diagnosed with a degenerative disease like arthritis. There are a number of types of arthritis, for which a total knee replacement may provide some relief. These include:

  • Osteoarthritis
    This condition causes pain, swelling and stiffness and is common in elderly patients. It occurs when cartilage around the bones wears away.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
    This condition causes the swelling in the lining (synovium) of the joints, resulting in swelling, stiffness and pain.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis
    This condition occurs as a result of knee injuries, such as falls, fractures or dislocations.

If you experience some of the following symptoms, you may need to consider a total knee replacement:

  • Severe knee pain that affects your daily physical activity
  • Knee stiffness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Swelling
  • Severe inflammation

Before choosing to undergo a total knee replacement procedure, it is essential that your orthopaedic surgeon conducts a thorough physical examination. This will include X-rays and possibly an MRI scan as well as an assessment of your strength, stability and range of motion.

How long will it take to recover?

After knee replacement surgery, it is important to discuss a proper rehabilitation plan with your orthopaedic surgeon. You will be required to have physical therapy so that you can ease comfortably back into walking and other physical activity. You doctor will also prescribe pain medication and anti-inflammatories after surgery. Most knee replacement procedures have good long-term results, and reduce pain considerably.