Knee replacement surgery (also known as knee arthroplasty) can help relieve severe pain in the knee joints and help them function again. When determining whether a knee replacement is right for you, the orthopedic surgeon evaluates the range of motion, stability and strength of your knee. X-rays help determine the extent of the damage.
Your doctor can choose from a variety of knee replacement and surgical techniques, taking into account your age, weight, activity level, knee size and shape, and overall health. The most common reason for knee replacement surgery is to reduce severe pain caused by osteoarthritis. People who need knee replacement surgery often have trouble walking, climbing stairs and sitting on chairs.
Your knee will be in a bent position to expose all surfaces of the joint. After making an incision that is approximately 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) long, your surgeon pulls the knee cap aside and cuts the damaged joint surfaces. After preparing the joint surfaces, the surgeon attaches the parts of the artificial joint. Before the incision is closed, it bends and rotates your knee, testing it to keep it working properly. The operation takes about two hours. When you stay in the hospital, you are encouraged to move your foot and ankle, which increases blood flow in your leg and helps prevent swelling and blood clots. You will be asked to do breathing exercises frequently and to increase your activity level gradually.
The day after surgery, a physical therapist will show you how to train your new knee. After you leave the hospital, you can continue physical therapy at home or at a center.