Knee replacement surgery (arthroplasty) is a common operation that involves replacing a damaged, worn or diseased knee with an artificial joint.
Adults of any age can be considered for a knee replacement, although most are carried out on people between the ages of 60 and 80.
A smaller operation called a partial knee replacement tends to be performed on younger people aged between 55 and 64 where the artificial joint is expected to need redoing within 10 years.
Why have a replacement?
Knee replacement surgery is usually necessary when the knee joint is worn or damaged so that your mobility is reduced and you are in pain even while resting.
The most common reason for knee replacement surgery is osteoarthritis. Other health conditions that cause knee damage include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Disorders that cause unusual bone growth
- Death of bone in joint following blood supply problems
- Knee injury
- Knee deformity with pain and loss of cartilage
There are 2 main types of surgery:
- Total knee replacement – both sides of the joint are replaced
- Partial (half) knee replacement – only 1 side of your joint is replaced in a smaller operation with a shorter hospital stay and recovery period
During the procedure, the surgeon will remove bone and diseased cartilage from where your femur and tibia meet at your knee joint. Those surfaces are then replaced with a metal implant. A piece of special plastic is normally used to replace the backside of the kneecap and finally, this same plastic material is placed in between the two metal parts.
This gives both bones of your knee joint smooth surfaces again so they can flex and bend more freely and painlessly.
Total Knee Replacement
Partial Knee Replacement
You’ll usually be in hospital for 3 to 5 days, but recovery times can vary.
Once you’re able to be discharged, your hospital will give you advice about looking after your knee at home. You’ll need to use a frame or crutches at first and a physiotherapist will teach you exercises to help strengthen your knee.
Most people can stop using walking aids around 6 weeks after surgery, and start driving after 6 to 8 weeks.
Full recovery can take up to 2 years as scar tissue heals and your muscles are restored by exercise. A very small amount of people will continue to have some pain after 2 years
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