FAQ Knee Replacement
- Foot & Ankle
- Joint Replacement & Reconstruction
- Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
- Musculoskeletal Oncology
- Pain Management
- Rehabilitation Services
- Shoulder & Upper Extremity
- Sports Medicine
Who should have knee replacement surgery?
No matter what your age, pain and limited mobility of the knee joint may keep you from activities you enjoy. These problems often build up over time. But you don't have to give up your life because of pain and loss of function. Advances in orthopedic medical care have made total joint replacement a common option for many suffering from knee joint pain. This surgery has enabled many people who were severely disabled to become more active.
Surgery is often considered when medications, changes in activity level and walking supports are no longer helpful. By resurfacing your knee's damaged and worn surfaces, total knee replacement surgery can relieve your pain, correct your leg deformity and help you resume your normal activities.
What are alternatives to knee replacement surgery?
Arthritis of the knee is one of the worst forms of arthritis. Routine activities are often painful, even miserable. Climbing a flight of stairs, bending and walking can cause severe discomfort.
The goal in treating arthritis of the knee is to relieve pain and improve movement. Available treatments include reducing your activity level, maintaining a healthy weight and physical therapy, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, injections and nutritional supplements. Surgery may be considered when these nonsurgical treatments do not provide relief.
What is involved with knee replacement surgery?
You'll be taken to the operating room where you'll be given an anesthesia to help you sleep through surgery. The surgeon will make an 8- to 10-inch incision on the front or side of the knee to access the knee joint. Any damaged bone is cleaned away and the new joint is put into place. The incision is closed with staples or stitches. Stainless steel staples are popular with many surgeons because they are easy to put in and take out. They also have a very low risk of allergic reaction by the patient. Some surgeons prefer using stitches that dissolve on their own after several weeks. These stitches are normally put in just under the skin.
What should I expect once I decide to have knee replacement surgery?
Once you decide to have knee surgery, your doctor should provide you with information about the surgery and the recovery. After surgery, you can expect little to no knee pain, an improvement in strength and activity level, and for many patients, an improved sense of well-being.
What's the difference between a cemented and cementless knee?
A cemented knee replacement uses an acrylic bone cement to fix the metal and plastic surfaces to your bone. Cementless knee replacements don't use this acrylic bone cement and tend to have surfaces that allow your own bone to grow onto the prosthesis and provide stability.
What are the possible complications of knee replacement surgery?
Several complications can occur, but all have a very low incidence. Still, these potential complications should be discussed with your surgeon beforehand. Complications can include: infection, blood loss, blood transfusion, deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolus. Complications related to the anesthesia are rare, but can also occur.
What should I expect after surgery?
You will be transferred from the recovery room to your hospital room. Nurses will check on you often to make sure you are comfortable. You'll have an IV to receive fluids, antibiotics and pain medications. You may also have a catheter to drain your bladder for the first few days following surgery. You'll begin walking with help the day after surgery. Your activity will gradually increase by walking more each day and working on your knee range of motion. It will be very important for you to work hard at fully straightening your knee and bending it to 90 degrees, or a right angle. You will have pain during physical therapy, but pain medications will be prescribed. Before being discharged from the hospital, you'll be able to move about on your own with a walker or crutches. We will discuss your home recovery and exercise program and assess your ability to manage for yourself.
How long will my joint replacement surgery last?
Your time in surgery will depend on your surgeon and your condition. In general, total knee replacement can be done in less than two hours for most, and in about one hour for many.
How many people have had knee replacements?
Knee replacement surgeries are the most common, even outnumbering hip replacements. About 400,000 Americans will have total knee joint replacement surgery this year. And millions worldwide have had this procedure. These replacement surgeries typically have excellent long-term results.
What activities can I participate in after I recover?
We encourage patients to resume a healthy, active lifestyle after knee replacement surgery. Walking, swimming, cycling and low-impact sports are encouraged. Whether patients should participate in more aggressive pivoting sports after knee replacement surgery is controversial and should be discussed with your surgeon.
How old are people who have knee replacement surgery?
The average age of patients who have total knee replacement is about 68 years of age. However, the age can range from age 20 to age 100 depending on the condition of the knee and the patient.
How long do knee replacements last?
Knee replacements can be very durable surgeries, giving years of pain relief to those with arthritis. From studies on hundreds of thousands of prostheses implanted over the past 20 years, we expect that about 90 percent of the surgeries performed today will last for at least 10 to 15 years. Many of these will go well beyond that time period without complications and remain pain-free.
Why do knee replacements fail?
Knee replacements can fail for several reasons. Infection around the knee prosthesis is a rare cause of failure. Implant loosening and wear on the bearing surface are other causes of implant failure.
Are knee replacements and revisions covered in my insurance plan?
Most insurance companies will cover elective total joint replacements. Some may require pre-authorization or a second opinion prior to allowing the procedure to be performed. Because the majority of patients having these procedures are over the age of 65, Medicare pays for most of the joint replacements performed in the United States. Depending on their insurance coverage, many patients will be required to make a co-payment or pay a part of the bill.