Understanding Knee Replacement Surgery

Understanding Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement, also known as ‘knee arthroplasty’, is a surgical procedure to replace the weight-bearing surfaces of the knee joint to relieve pain and disability. Stated by Arthritis UK, the damaged cartilage is removed and replaced with plastic and metal parts. The new artificial joint will allow your knee to bend and be more mobile improving stability and increasing your quality of life. If you have been told that you may be a candidate for knee replacement surgery, you will have many questions surrounding the pros and cons of proceeding with the operation. Let’s discuss all the facts when considering the procedure:

When would I need a knee placement?

You’ll only need a knee replacement if your knee gives you pain, stiffness, instability or loss of function that affects your daily life and activities. Pain that wakes you up or affects your ability to work or partake in everyday activities should be addressed. Knee replacements are most common in over 60s, however other patients can be suitable for this procedure when they have contributing factors to the condition such as Arthritis, fractured bones, knee stiffness or cartilage damage.

Before opting for surgery, you should rule out other practices such as physiotherapy and medicines. Your consultant will advise further if these do not make the pain more manageable and your mobility issues are improved.

It is important to research specialists who are experienced in performing this type of surgery and can tell you about patient success stories while offer skills and knowledge to assess your options.  Take your time in searching for a reputable clinic or discuss your options with an NHS surgeon.

Prior to surgery, your clinician will consider if surgery is the best option for you and will assess your overall health and heart condition to ensure that your body can cope with the anaesthetic and recovery phase.

How is the surgery performed?

There are various different procedures that your consultant will use to conduct a knee replacement. This will depend on the condition of the joint. Some of these include:

  • TKR (Total Knee Replacements) is the surgery where both sides of the knee joint are placed with plastic and metal components
  • PKR (Partial Knee Replacement) is chosen for replacing only one smaller piece of the joint. This is a shorter hospital stay and recovery period

The NHS also advises on other procedures where


Now that you have undergone the operation, one of the most important elements of gaining maximum results is to immediately start a comprehensive rehabilitation programme. This will be planned out before the operation. You’ll be encouraged to get out of bed in hospital 12-24hrs post-surgery and after assessment with support aids such as a walking frame, your consultant will arrange bespoke knee replacement physiotherapy. Support will be given to help you do basic tasks such as bathing and using the toilet. Once you are confident in moving around and your pain is controllable you will be sent home on the condition that:

  • You do not need assistance to dress and bathe on your own
  • Are not heavily reliant on a supportive device
  • Bending your need to a 90-degree angle is manageable

You rehabilitation programme will continue at home, where you should complete daily strengthening exercises and visit the physiotherapist outpatient clinic.

Success stories

It has been reported that for 80-90% of patients who have undergone a total knee replacement, they can expect their new joint to be fully functional for approximately 20 years. However, a repeat operation will be required each decade for 1 in 10 partial knee surgery candidates. Your own health can impact the lifespan of your new knee – obesity and your career, if you do a heavy manual or physical job, this will increase the odds of you requiring repeat surgery.

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