Knee Replacement

Knee joint replacement is surgery to replace a painful damaged or diseased knee joint with an artificial joint (prosthesis).

Knee joint replacement may be recommended for:

  • Arthritis of the knee and decreased knee function caused by arthritis
  • Inability to sleep through the night because of knee pain
  • Knee pain that hasn't responded to other therapy (including medication, injections, and physical therapy for six months or more)
  • Knee pain that limits or prevents activities
  • Some tumors involving the knee

How do I know if I need a knee replacement?

Your doctor will recommend an arthroscopy, which is a method for viewing a joint, and if needed, to perform a surgery.

An arthroscope is a small tube with a lens and a light source that lets your doctor understand the damage or cause of your knee problems.

Doctors often prescribe arthroscopies if you have:

  • A need for joint surgery
  • Damaged meniscus (cushions in the knee joint area)
  • Knee pain from an injury
  • Disease of the knee joint
  • Lesions or other problems detected by X-rays
  • Bone fragments from a fracture

The diagnostic accuracy of arthroscopy is about 98 percent.

Where do I go after my hospital stay?

Most patients stay in the hospital between three and five days after a knee replacement. There are three possibilities for after-care following a knee joint replacement surgery:

  • Home – If you go home from the hospital, your doctor may recommend outpatient care and therapy to support your healing.
  • Acute rehabilitation facility – If you need additional physical therapy, your doctor may recommend regular visits to an outpatient physical therapist.
  • Subacute rehabilitation or extended care facility – If you need advanced care, you may spend more hands-on time in physical or occupational therapy.

When can I return to normal activities?

You can – and should – follow all of the activities that your therapists showed you as soon as you arrive home. For example, you may climb stairs one after the other; just follow the technique you were taught.

You will be able to resume normal stair climbing in about two or three months. Knee replacement patients can begin to kneel when you feel comfortable.

Depending on your career or work, you'll be able to resume normal activities in about three months.

When can I drive again?

You'll be able to resume driving in about four to eight weeks. Your doctor will let you know when you're ready. Plans for long trips, even as a passenger, should be reviewed with your surgeon.