What to Know about Total Knee Replacement

You have been dealing with an achy knee for years, but lately the pain has made it difficult to walk comfortably. Could total knee replacement be a solution?

The first step is to talk with your primary care provider about what you are experiencing. If you have not already seen an orthopedic specialist, your PCP may recommend one. 

An orthopedic specialist, or orthopedist, can recommend ways to alleviate your pain and other symptoms. They may recommend nonsurgical treatment options such as oral or injected medications and physical therapy.

However, when these nonsurgical options do not provide relief, a total knee replacement might be the answer. 

Who Needs a Total Knee Replacement?

Total knee replacement is recommended for those who are experiencing debilitating symptoms because of a condition like arthritis or because of injury. While conservative treatment options are the first step, the specialist might recommend a knee replacement when other types of treatment do not help.

If you are experiencing knee pain, swelling and stiffness that increasingly disrupt your normal daily activities, you may benefit from total knee replacement. Those who undergo the procedure typically experience drastically improved mobility and improved quality of life in the days, weeks and months after surgery.

What Happens during a Total Knee Replacement?

During a total knee replacement, your knee joint is replaced with a prosthetic.

Regional anesthesia is commonly used for the procedure, and your surgeon will make an incision on your knee. The surgeon will remove damaged cartilage and bone in your knee joint and replace it with an artificial joint. The components of the artificial joint, which is made of metal and strong plastic, serve a similar function as your original knee joint. 

The entire procedure typically takes between one and two hours.

How Long Does it Take to Recover after Total Knee Replacement?

In many cases, people who undergo total knee replacement are up and moving within the first few hours after surgery. Many patients leave the hospital the same day of the surgery after undergoing initial rehabilitation in the hospital.

After returning home, the recovery process begins. Carefully follow your medical team’s directions about managing your pain and any exercises you should be performing at home. You should also watch for complications including infection or a blood clot.

Within a week of your procedure, you will begin physical therapy, which can continue for several weeks until functional goals met. These intensive rehabilitation sessions will help you learn to move again using the new joint while strengthening your knee and improving your range of motion and balance.

While you will feel discomfort at first after surgery, many patients experience pain relief and improved mobility soon after a knee replacement.

Knee Replacement Surgery at University Health

Learn about total knee replacement surgery at University Health, where our orthopedic surgeons have years of experience performing this common procedure.

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