Why do a knee replacement?

Knee replacement surgery is a major procedure to relieve severe knee pain caused by arthritis or injury. Knee replacement surgery, also known as knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to remove damaged or diseased parts of the knee and replace them with new metal and plastic components. Knee replacement can be performed on one side (unilateral) or on both sides (bilateral). Knee replacement surgery is usually recommended when other treatments haven’t provided enough relief for severe pain and disability.

What is used to replace the joint?

Knee replacement surgery involves making an incision in the front of your knee to remove the damaged joint surfaces, then replacing them with metal and plastic parts that mimic the structure of a healthy joint.

How long does the operation take?

Knee replacement surgery typically takes one to two hours and is usually performed under general or spinal anaesthesia.

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How long are you in the hospital for knee replacement?

Most people who are in good health prior to the surgery are up and walking with crutches the next day and in hospital for 3-4 nights. This may vary if there are other health conditions to monitor or if extra mobility support is needed.

Are there any complications?

Complications of knee replacement surgery are rare but can include infection, blood clots, nerve damage and implant failure. Knee replacement surgery is generally considered successful if it reduces pain and helps you return to normal activities such as walking, bending and climbing stairs.

How long before I can get back to full activities after a knee replacement?

Typically, full recovery after knee replacement surgery usually takes between 3 months and 6 months, more for some people. Physical therapy will be required during this time to strengthen the muscles around your knee and improve flexibility. You may also need medications such as pain relievers to help manage discomfort.

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How painful is knee replacement surgery?

The amount of pain felt during and after surgery will vary depending on individual sensitivity. Generally, most people report feeling moderate levels of pain during the first few days following their surgery, however those with severe pain before the operation may notice considerable improvement in pain and joint stability. Pain medications, cold therapy, and physical therapy are typically used to help manage discomfort.

What about going home?

For the first few months after surgery, care is needed with movement of the knee. In time, people are able to return to their previous level of activity. Be sure to get the home ready for return, ensure that there is someone to help with heavy tasks or stairs, there is enough space to move around easily, floors are clear and slip proofed to prevent falls. 

What sports can I do after a knee replacement?

Recovering from surgery takes time, so set expectations accordingly and you will gradually become more active. Impact and cutting activities, like running, jumping, soccer or basketball, put a lot of stress on a knee replacement and may lead to earlier wear of the plastic or loosening of the bond attaching the implant to the bones. Lower impact sports, such as biking, swimming, elliptical, hiking or golfing, are going to be much better for the longevity of a replacement.
Additionally, a knee replacement does not have the same sensation and feeling as a native knee. and it doesn't give the same proprioceptive feedback that is often needed for high-level impact sports.

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Can I do both knee replacements at the same time?

Having both knees replaced at the same time can reduce overall recovery time, as well as medical costs and hospital stay. However, it also increases the risk of complications such as infection and blood clots. It is important to understand that recovery from a double knee replacement surgery takes time and there will be moments of discomfort and pain during the process. You should ensure you are mentally prepared for this before undergoing such an extensive procedure. Rehabilitation after having both knees replaced at the same time is challenging, especially at first as you may find certain movements or positions such as kneeling difficult. It is not suitable for everyone; your doctor will be able to advise you on whether having both knees replaced at the same time is a good option for you.


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Articles on this website are informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. They should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.