The knee is made up of three bones - the lower end of the thigh bone (femur), the upper end of the shin bone (tibia) and the knee cap (patella). The joint surfaces where these three bones touch are covered with a special smooth material called cartilage. Cartilage allows the knee to move smoothly when it is healthy, but can wear away with time or disease. This can cause pain, swelling, deformity and decreasing function. Total knee replacement eliminates all pain that is coming from the arthritic knee and significantly improves function.

What is Total Knee Replacement?

A jogger grabs his left knee

During a knee replacement, the end of the leg bones are replaced with metal. There's plastic that goes at the back of the knee cap and between the two metal components. These components are secured into place with a cement specifically designed for bones. The surgery is intended to alleviate pain from arthritis, improve joint stability and restore normal knee alignment.

The knee replacement operation is conducted under general or regional anesthesia. Usually three days in the hospital are all that is required. You can be standing and walking the day of surgery. Joint replacement surgery requires some physical therapy which begins the first day after surgery as well. Surgical soreness and swelling may take a few weeks to subside however, within several weeks you should be able to return to your normal activities.

Am I a candidate?

The decision to have a knee replacement should be made by you and your orthopedic surgeon after a thorough orthopedic examination has been completed.

You may benefit from a total knee replacement if:

  • You have severe arthritis on your X-rays
  • You have severe knee pain that prevents you from doing the activities that you enjoy
  • You have failed to improve with other treatment modalities such as medications, occasional injections, physical therapy or walking aids

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will I be in pain?

Typically post-surgical soreness and swelling last about six weeks.

How long will the recovery period last?

Approximately six to 12 weeks, but patients continue to improve strength and flexibility for up to one year.

How long until I can walk?

Knee replacement patients are out of bed and moving about in their room on the day of surgery.

How long must I go through physical therapy?

The duration of physical therapy is based on each patient's rate of progress and needs.

When can I go back to work?

Your return to work depends on the type of work your job requires.

  • Office-type work: Three weeks
  • Standing: Approx. six weeks to three months
  • Labor: Approx. three months