In Need Of A New Knee? The 101 On Knee Replacement Surgery

From osteoarthritis and sports-related injuries to an automobile accident, it is easy to see the numerous ways you can damage the cartilage and bone of your knee. This damage may cause daily discomfort and pain, but it can also decrease your mobility. While many people learn to live with this pain, repairing the cartilage and bone is possible with knee replacement surgery.

Considering an estimated 600,000 knee replacement surgeries are performed successfully each year, undergoing this procedure to reduce your own pain and restore full mobility is smart. Using this guide, you will understand the surgical process and learn the best techniques for an effective post-operative recovery.

The 101 on Knee Replacements

While surprising to hear, the surgery does not actually completely replace your knee. Surgeons will focus on resurfacing the bone of your damaged knee, reducing discomfort from moving the knee joint.

Here are the 4 main steps of a knee replacement surgery:

  • Prepping the Bone – Your surgeon will remove any damaged cartilage and bone from the ends of the tibia and femur.
  • Placing the Implants – After removing the damaged cartilage and bone, metal pieces are implanted in their place using a medical-grade cement. These implants create a stronger, more durable surface for your knee joint.
  • Resurfacing the Knee Cap – The surface of the patella, or knee cap, is cut and resurfaced using a plastic insert.
  • Inserting the Spacer – Your surgeon will insert a plastic spacer between the new metal implants. This creates a smooth surface for your knee joint to work without friction or pain.

Although it may seem invasive and overwhelming, knee replacement surgery offers effective results if you are dealing with chronic pain and immobility.

Knee Replacement Recovery

Each patient is different, but you should expect full recovery about 3 months after knee replacement surgery.  Of course, proper rest, care, and physical therapy are essential elements to a successful recovery after surgery.

You will most likely spend a few days in the hospital after surgery. This allows your doctor time to monitor your recovery from anesthesia and the mobility of your knee joint. In addition, your doctor will ease any discomfort using pain management medication before releasing you from the hospital.

At home, focus on preventing infections with proper care of your incision. Your surgeon will use staples or sutures to close these incisions, which may remain for a few weeks after the surgery. To keep your incisions clean, change bandages as recommended by your doctor. In addition, cover the incisions with plastic wrap before bathing. If you are experiencing a high fever, drainage from the wound, or pain and discomfort, contact your doctor immediately, as these are signs of an infection.

Here are a few more tips to aid in your recovery at home:

  • Clots – Blood clots are common after surgery due to the excessive bed rest, intravenous medications, and anesthesia. At home, prevent blood clots by elevating your leg for a few minutes each day. Also, wear compression socks at night to reduce swelling. Light exercise, under the supervision of your physical therapist, also improves your blood circulation.
  • Therapy – You should avoid strenuous activity the first few days after surgery, so use a walker or cane when moving around. Each day, increase the amount of time and the distance you are able to walk without assistance. Your physical therapist will give you detailed exercises to complete each day, increasing the strength and comfort of your knee after surgery.

Living with pain and a decreased mobility is difficult. While a knee replacement surgery does not really replace your knee, it can decrease your pain and increase your mobility. Using this guide and the help of your doctor, you can reduce your need for a new knee. For more information, contact a local orthopedic clinic or visit sites like