Knee replacement addresses severe damage from injury or arthritis. Damaged joints make it difficult to perform simple tasks such as walking or climbing stairs, and this procedure has been proven effective in relieving pain and getting patients back to normal activities.
We’ve Seen and Solved It All
In our 35+ years in practice, we have seen all types of knee issues come through our doors. Knee injuries affect elite athletes, office workers and retirees alike. The good news is that at Orthopaedics East & Sports Medicine Center, the extensive training and experience of our surgeons drive their ability to consistently deliver quality surgical outcomes for our patients. Being patient-centered, we aim to get our patients back to doing what’s important to them.
Knee replacement surgery, also called knee arthroplasty, removes damaged bone and cartilage on the surfaces of two of the knee bones: the femur and tibia. The damaged bone and cartilage is replaced with metal components to recreate the surface of the knee. The kneecap is then reshaped and fitted with a plastic button to allow it to glide smoothly over the new metal components. Lastly, a spacer is inserted between the metal components to create a surface that allows the joint to move smoothly.
If non-operative treatments are no longer helpful, it may be time to speak with one of our physicians about knee replacement surgery.
Total knee replacement surgery is one of the most successful medical procedures, and recent advancements in materials and techniques continue to increase its effectiveness.
During total knee replacement surgery, all three major compartments of the knee (medial, the inside part of the knee; lateral, the outside part of the knee; and patellofemoral, the front of the knee between the kneecap and thighbone) are replaced.
In partial knee replacement, only the damaged portion of the knee is replaced.
A bilateral knee replacement occurs when both knees are replaced, either at the same time or in two separate surgical procedures, potentially months apart. Either surgery may involve any combination of total knee replacement or partial knee replacement.
Revision surgery is for individuals who have previously had a knee replacement. The material used in knee implants naturally wears over time. A knee revision surgery replaces all or parts of the original knee implant inserted during a total knee replacement. While implant longevity will vary, a knee replacement typically lasts 15-20 years. Symptoms that may trigger a revision surgery are the same as those for the original replacement, primarily pain.
What is a knee replacement?
Also called knee arthroplasty, knee replacement is a surgical procedure in which certain parts of an arthritic or damaged knee joint are removed and replaced with prostheses. The artificial joint is designed to move just like a normal, healthy joint and allows you to get back to enjoying everyday activities without pain.
What are the reasons for a knee replacement?
Knee replacement is often a last resort for patients who:
- Have a painful, disabling joint disease of the knee, like severe arthritis
- Have tried non-operative interventions, such as medication and physical therapy, without success
- Are not likely to achieve satisfactory results from other procedures
Undergoing a knee replacement is a very personal decision that only you can make in consultation with your orthopedic surgeon.
What happens during knee replacement surgery?
In surgery, the knee is flexed and the leg suspended. The thigh muscle is separated to expose the thighbone and later, the shinbone. The damaged surfaces at the end of the thighbone are shaped to fit inside the total knee prosthesis. Normally, the shinbone is cut flat across the top and a hole is created in the center to hold the stem of the prosthesis for the shinbone. If needed, the kneecap is reshaped so that it may glide appropriately on the new prostheses.
At various points during surgery, the alignment, function, and stability of the knee joint are evaluated and adjusted. The prosthesis components are then cemented into place, the thigh muscle is reconstructed, and the incision is closed.
What is minimally invasive knee replacement?
With minimally invasive knee surgery, specialized techniques and instrumentation enable the physician to perform major surgery with a smaller incision, causing less trauma to the surrounding soft tissues. Minimally invasive knee replacement is considered a step forward in total knee replacement because of its potential for faster recovery and less scarring. However, minimally invasive surgery is not the right procedure for everyone, and your orthopedic physician can determine its benefits for you.
Are there risks associated with minimally invasive surgery?
- The minimally invasive knee replacement technique is significantly less invasive than conventional knee replacement surgery, but it is still a major surgery.
- As with any major surgical procedure, patients who undergo total joint replacement are at risk for certain complications, the majority of which can be successfully avoided and/or treated.
How long is the hospital stay?
Patients are normally discharged home following surgery. Your surgeon and care team will determine if a hospital stay is required. If so, the length of your stay will depend on your personal situation. Procedures are performed in both an inpatient (typically hospital) and outpatient (typically hospital or ambulatory surgery center) setting. The average length of stay for an inpatient procedure is one to three days vs. an outpatient procedure that generally does not require an overnight stay. The length of your stay is going to vary per your unique circumstances and your ability to progress in physical therapy.
Usually patients are discharged home from surgery, but your care providers will determine if home health or alternative post-operative care is necessary following your discharge.
How long is the recovery?
Recovery varies with each person. Typically, patients will take pain medication for a few days while healing. It is essential to follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding home care during the first few weeks, especially concerning your prescribed exercise program. You will use a walker, crutches and/or cane for up to six weeks following your procedure. You should be able to resume most light daily activities within six to 12 weeks. Some discomfort during activity and at night is common for several weeks, and complete recovery can take from three to six months.
What are the complications?
As with any surgery, there are risks of complications; however, they are relatively rare. Blood clots are one of the primary concerns post-surgery. Your orthopedic surgeon may prescribe one or more measures to prevent a clot from forming. These measures may include a special support hose, inflatable leg coverings, and blood thinners.
What is the success rate?
Knee replacement is one of the most important surgical advances of this century, helping more than 600,000 Americans relieve their pain and get back to enjoying normal, everyday activities each year.
When will I be able to go back to a normal daily routine, such as going to work or driving a car?
This is a decision that only you and your orthopedic physician can make. However, there are some general guidelines that your physician may give you:
- Don’t tire yourself out — a good balance of exercise, rest, and relaxation is best for helping your body heal and gain strength.
- When to resume driving a car, going to work, and/or participating in sports activities are all highly individualized decisions. Be sure to follow your doctor or orthopedic physician and care team’s advice.
How long does a knee replacement last?
A knee replacement typically lasts 15-20 years. Implant longevity will vary and depend on personal circumstances, such as age and activity level, which are both considered when the surgeon helps decide which materials are best for you.
Schedule an appointment today with one of Eastern North Carolina’s leading orthopedic and sports medicine physicians!