Total Knee Replacement Surgery Basics
This article is part of the Ultimate Guide to Knee Pain Relief and was updated in May 2021.
Total knee replacement surgery, or knee arthroplasty, is performed more often than any other joint replacement surgery. In fact, more than 750,000 knee surgeries are performed annually in the United States alone.
The procedure is so common because over ninety percent of knee replacement surgery patients report experiencing major improvements in their mobility and significant pain relief after the healing process.
Most total joint patients are very focused when recovering from knee surgery, and their dedication is a critical contributor to successful outcomes. Knee doctors’ use of 3D modeling also increases the success rate for knee replacement surgery patients.
Read on to find out more about what you need to know about getting knee replacement surgery.
What Happens During Total Knee Replacement Surgery?
In a total knee replacement procedure, a knee surgeon removes cartilage and ends of the femur and tibia with specialized instruments. They start with this step to prepare the surfaces of a patient’s bones for the implants. The surgery ends with an orthopedic surgeon fitting a new joint to the ends of both bones.
Typically, new knee joints are a combination of metal—typically titanium or cobalt chrome—and polyethylene, which is an incredibly tough and reliable plastic. Other materials, like Zirconium, have also recently been used in knee replacements with the hope of improving longevity.
Who Should Get Knee Arthroplasty?
Good candidates for total knee replacement surgery are chronic sufferers of arthritis (joint inflammation) who are experiencing a reduced quality of life due to pain, in spite of non-surgical treatments. Knee arthritis manifests as osteoarthritis, which is when the cartilage is worn away exposing the bone. This causes the bones of the knee to rub painfully against each other.
Usually, orthopedic doctors will try most, if not all, of the non-surgical treatments before performing surgery. If the patient only has sporadic pain or has the ability to take part in sports or athletics the orthopedist will use other pain management and joint supplement techniques.
Almost always the best option is to treat chronic pain without resorting to total knee replacement surgery. There are many ways to treat arthritic knees including:
- Cortisone and Other Anti-Inflammatory Medications
- Joint Supplements to Protect Remaining Cartilage
- Hyaluronan (Hyaluronic Acid) Therapy
- Activity Modification
- Weight Loss by Diet and Exercise
Total Knee Replacement Surgery
The primary goal of knee arthroplasty surgery is to bring the patient relief from their chronic pain and improve the functioning of the knee.
While total knee replacement surgery results usually will last from 15 to 25 years, occasionally a revision surgery may need to tighten up or replace the implants. Most likely the patient will experience some restrictions to their activity.
Every patient has unique needs because no two joint replacement surgeries are the same. Your knee doctor will assess your condition and goals to recommend before suggesting which activities you can enjoy post-surgery and what you should avoid doing to prevent re-injury.
Common Recommended Activities Post Total Knee Replacement Surgery:
- Non-Strenuous Hiking
- Cross Country Skiing
- Horseback Riding
Typical Restricted Activities After Total Knee Replacement Surgery:
- High-Impact Exercise or Aerobics
- Contact Sports
- Jogging and Running
- Tennis and Racquetball
- Lifting Over 50 Pounds Repeatedly
- Vigorous Walking and Hiking
Why Choose IBJI When You Need Knee Surgery
Our highly-trained surgeons and knee doctors are experts in non-surgical arthritis treatments, pain management, and—if it’s deemed necessary–total knee replacement surgery. We consult one-on-one with every patient to create a customized treatment plan based on the best options for alleviating their chronic knee pain .
Though we can’t turn every patient into Lee Majors from Six Million Dollar Man, IBJI does have the experienced staff, comprehensive services, and cutting-edge technologies necessary to help people move better and live better.
Illinois Bone & Joint Institute is one of the largest orthopedic group practices in Illinois. We have 150 physicians, 100 locations throughout the greater Chicago area, expertise in knee care and all other orthopedic specialties, and complete diagnostic and rehab services.
*The blog is for general information and educational purposes only regarding musculoskeletal conditions. The information provided does not constitute the practice of medicine or other healthcare professional services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor-patient relationship is formed. Readers with musculoskeletal conditions should seek the advice of their healthcare professionals without delay for any condition they have. The use of the information is at the reader’s own risk. The content is not intended to replace diagnosis, treatment, or medical advice from your treating healthcare professional.