Knee Replacement Surgery In A Nutshell

Knee Replacement (or Knee Arthroplasty) is performed more often than any other joint replacement surgery today, more than 300,000 are performed annually in the United States alone. With over ninety percent of knee replacement surgeries resulting in a major improvement in pain and mobility, many patients consider this the most beneficial joint replacement surgery available.  Much of the success of this surgery can be attributed to patients becoming very focused and active in their rehabilitation. A fairly new technique, called 3D modeling, is also increasing the success rate for knee replacement surgery (more on IBJI’s 3D modeling capabilities in another article).

Knee Replacement Explained

In a total knee replacement, the cartilage and ends of the femur and tibia are removed. Specialized instruments are used for the removal, which makes the exposed bone surface ready for the implants.  The orthopedic surgeon then fits a new joint to the ends of both bones. Typically then new joint is a combination of metal, typically titanium, and polyethylene, which is an incredibly tough and reliable plastic. Recently longer lasting ceramic and zirconium have been used in knee replacements, though the ceramic is not able to withstand excessive weight or activity.

Candidates for Knee Arthroplasty

Good candidates for knee replacement are chronic sufferers of arthritis (joint inflammation). Typically 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.

Non-Surgical Treatments

Almost always the best option is to treat chronic pain without resorting to surgery. There are many ways to treat arthritic knees including:

  • Cortisone or other anti-inflammatory medications
  • Joint supplements to help protect the remaining cartilage
  • Hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid) therapy
  • Changes to the patients activities
  • Weight loss by diet and exercise

Expectations After Surgery

The primary goal of the knee arthroplasty surgery is to bring the patient relief from their chronic pain and improve the functioning of the knee. While knee replacements usually will last from 15 to 25 years, occasionally a revision surgery may be need to tighten up or replace the implants. Most likely the patient will experience some restrictions to their activity.  While no two joint replacement surgeries are the same, typically a orthopedic physician  will suggest activities to take part in as well as those to avoid.

Typical Post Knee Replacement Activity Suggestions:

  • Swimming
  • Golfing
  • Bike Riding
  • Dancing
  • Non Strenuous Hiking
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Bowling
  • Horseback Riding

Potential Post Knee Replacement Restricted Activities:

  • High Impact Exercise or Aerobics
  • Contact Sports
  • Jogging & Running
  • Tennis & Racquetball
  • Lifting over 50 Pounds Repeatedly
  • Vigorous Walking or Hiking

How Illinois Bone & Joint’s Orthopedist Can Help

The highly trained surgeons and doctors at IBJI are experts in arthritis treatment, pain management and, if needed, joint replacement surgery. They consult with their patients to discuss the best options for treating your chronic knee pain.  While they can’t turn a patient into Lee Majors, they can help patients achieve better mobility and an improved quality of life. Please contact us and we will schedule a consultation to discuss the problems with your knees.