Knee replacement can often help alleviate pain and improve mobility in those who suffer from severe knee arthritis or previous knee injuries. The procedure effectively restores the function of your knee by resurfacing and replacing damaged joint parts with artificial joint parts.
Knee replacement surgery is often recommended after nonsurgical treatments have failed to relieve your symptoms. After discussing your options with you and fully assessing your condition, your doctor will determine whether you are a good candidate for the procedure.
What to Expect: Knee Replacement Surgery
Most knee replacements take about two hours to complete. You can expect the following on the day of your surgery:
- An anesthesiologist will administer either general anesthesia (puts you to sleep during the surgery) or regional anesthesia (you remain awake but cannot feel anything from the waist down) before the procedure begins.
- Your surgeon will make a 6- to 10-inch incision and carefully move your kneecap to access the damaged joint parts.
- The surgeon will then remove the damaged joint parts and replace them with artificial joint parts.
- Once the artificial parts are in place, your surgeon will put your kneecap back in place and then close the incision with stitches and cover it with a surgical dressing.
Recovery time for this procedure generally requires you to stay in the hospital for one or two days. Your care team will take measures to prevent infection, swelling and blood clots. You will also receive pain medicine if necessary.
Upon your return home, you will need to do exercises to rebuild your strength and mobility. A physical therapist will visit you before you leave the hospital to show you how to do these exercises. It’s important to follow your physician’s instructions to ensure a proper recovery.
Some patients are required to use an assistive device, such as a walker or crutches, for a few weeks following surgery. It’s recommended that you find someone to help you with everyday tasks while you recover. Most people are able to return to their normal activities within three to six weeks.
Your knee replacement care team may include specialists from these services:
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with knee replacement surgery. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits with you before scheduling the procedure.