Knee Replacement

Knee replacement surgery – also called ‘arthroplasty’, basically involves replacing a damaged, or, ‘worn-out’ knee with an artificial one.

It’s a very common operation, more than 70,000 knee replacements are carried out in England and Wales each year, and the number is rising. Knee replacements are usually performed because of severe pain caused by osteoarthritis, and most are performed in people aged over 65 years.

Do I Need a Knee Replacement?

You may be offered knee replacement surgery if:

  • You have severe pain, swelling and stiffness in your knee joint and this means you can’t walk around very easily
  • Your knee pain is so severe that it interferes with your quality of life and sleep
  • Everyday tasks, such as bathing, shopping , or doing housework etc. are difficult or impossible
  • You cannot work or have a normal social life

Why Me?

The reasons why some people need a knee replacement (or 2!) and others don’t are numerous and varied. Some of the risk factors that make you/your knee more susceptible include:

  • Family history
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Physical activity (lack of, or, too much high impact sports)
  • Poor alignment of the joint
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight

Types of Knee Replacement

There are two main types of surgery and the type that you have can depend on the condition of the knee and surgeon preference:

Total knee replacement (TKR).

This is where both sides of your knee joint are replaced, which means the top of the tibia (shin bone) and the bottom of the femur (thigh bone) [see picture]tkr

Partial (half) knee replacement.  Here, only one side of your joint is replaced. This is a smaller operation, usually with a shorter hospital stay and recovery period.

Recovery From a Knee Replacement

Generally, the first six weeks are the most uncomfortable. Towards the end of this period you should be able to stop using your walking aids and start to resume your normal and leisure activities.

However, it can often take three months or more for the pain to go away and swelling to go down. Recovery will continue for up to a year or two following surgery. It is important that you have physiotherapy after your surgery and perform the home stretching and strengthening exercises.

In order to get the most out of your knee, you should continue to perform muscle strengthening exercises after your physiotherapy to make sure your knee functions properly. Maybe this is the ideal opportunity to join a gym!

We’ll look at rehabilitation in a little more detail next time.

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