Total Knee ArthroplastyA total knee arthroplasty (replacement) can relieve pain caused by arthritis or injury. When conservative treatment options fail to relieve knee pain, doctors may recommend a total knee arthroplasty (or knee replacement surgery) after a thorough examination of the joint and its ability to function. This procedure replaces the joint’s diseased, damaged bone and cartilage with a prosthesis (artificial joint) strong enough to support daily activities and low-impact exercise.
Damage caused by degenerative joint disease is the main reason most total knee arthroplasty procedures are performed. This is especially true of osteoarthritis, or the degeneration of cartilage.
Other issues that can lead to the need for a total knee replacement include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Post-traumatic arthritis
- Knee deformities
Although a total knee replacement surgery can relieve severe pain and discomfort, it is usually considered only after treatment options such as medication, weight loss, injections, physical therapy and lifestyle changes do not work for a patient.
This surgical procedure involves the removal of damaged bone and cartilage behind the kneecap, followed by a “resurfacing” of the area and the placement of a metal and plastic prosthesis. A surgeon will check the new joint to ensure it offers the proper range of motion before finishing the procedure.
What to Expect
A total knee arthroplasty generally takes two hours or less to complete. Like any other type of surgery, it does carry a risk of infection, blood clots, nerve damage and other complications; however, not all patients are required to stay in the hospital for longer than a few days. In fact, some patients are even able to go home on the same day they undergo the procedure in an outpatient setting.
While total knee arthroplasty may not offer patients as much mobility as they had prior to surgery, many recover well enough to resume most of their normal activities in three to six weeks. To avoid any setbacks in recovery, patients should be sure to take the following actions:
- Begin a physician-directed exercise program almost immediately and stay consistent with it
- Install grab bars and other mobility-aiding devices at home to help with movement for a few weeks
- Consult with a doctor before having any dental work done within six months after knee replacement surgery, as bacteria can potentially enter the bloodstream and settle in the artificial joint
Total knee arthroplasty has been proven to reduce the pain of arthritis or injury in many patients. Modern prostheses can last up to 15 years, though the durability can be affected by a patient’s exercise and lifestyle habits.
At Tampa General Hospital’s Orthopaedics Institute, our team of board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeons uses cutting-edge robotic technology (including the MAKO® RIO™ Robotic Arm Interactive Orthopaedic System) to achieve award-winning, world-class outcomes with total knee arthroplasty and other joint replacement surgeries.