Total knee replacement, also called total knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure in which the worn out or damaged surfaces of the knee joint are removed and replaced with artificial parts. The knee is made up of the femur (thigh bone), the tibia (shin bone), and the patella (kneecap). The meniscus, the soft cartilage between the femur and tibia, serves as a cushion and helps absorb shock during motion.
Arthritis (inflammation of the joints), injury, or other diseases of the joint can damage this protective layer of cartilage, causing extreme pain and difficulty in performing daily activities. Your doctor may recommend surgery if non-surgical treatment options have failed to relieve the symptoms.
What are the indications?
Total knee replacement surgery is commonly indicated for severe osteoarthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of knee arthritis in which the joint cartilage gradually wears away. It often affects older people.
In a normal joint, articular cartilage allows for smooth movement within the joint, whereas in an arthritic knee the cartilage itself becomes thinner or completely absent. In addition, the bones become thicker around the edges of the joint and may form bony “spurs”. These factors can cause pain and restricted range of motion in the joint.
Total knee replacement may be advised if you have:
- Severe knee pain that limits your daily activities (such as walking, getting up from a chair or climbing stairs).
- Moderate to severe pain that occurs during rest or awakens you at night.
- Chronic knee inflammation and swelling that is not relieved with rest or medications
- Failure to obtain pain relief from medications, injections, physical therapy, or other conservative treatments.
- A bow-legged knee deformity
What are the causes of osteoarthritis?
- Injury or trauma to the joint
- Fractures at the knee joint
- Increased body weight
- Repetitive overuse
- Joint infection
- Inflammation of the joint
- Connective tissue disorders
How is it diagnosed?
The doctor will diagnose osteoarthritis based on the medical history, physical examination, and X-rays. X-rays typically show a narrowing of the joint space in the arthritic knee.
What is the Surgical Procedure?
The goal of total knee replacement surgery is to relieve pain and restore the alignment and function of your knee.
The surgery is performed under spinal or general anaesthesia. Your surgeon will make an incision in the skin over the affected knee to expose the knee joint. Then the damaged portions of the femur bone are cut at appropriate angles using specialized jigs.
Life After Total Knee Replacement: What the Recovery Looks Like
Knee replacement is an incredibly common and successful procedure. Over 90% of people who have knee replacement experience significant improvement in pain and their ability to get around.
For most people, knee replacement restores a good quality of life, giving back independence and allowing you to engage in activities you used to enjoy.
The average recovery time from knee replacement surgery is approximately six months, but it can take roughly twelve months to fully return to physically demanding activities.