Knee replacement is a very effective surgery for correcting deformity and relieving pain from arthritis. The typical conditions leading up to the need for a knee replacement are osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid disease, and posttraumatic arthritis or damage to the cartilage after a prior injury. Knee replacement involves replacing or capping the joint surfaces where the cartilage has been damaged with metal and plastic components. The amount of bone removed in a knee replacement procedure is typically less than 9-mm. Typically three of the four major ligaments of the knee can remain in place. Minimally invasive surgery has really changed knee replacement as we are now able to perform the procedure through smaller incisions with less tendon and muscle damage due to improved instruments and techniques. The minimally invasive approach to knee replacement has lead to less postoperative pain and a quicker recovery and improved motion due to less scar tissue formation. Computer-guided navigation is an additional advancement in knee replacement surgery. With the use of computer-guided navigation we are able to more consistently place the knee in perfect alignment thus resulting in a more predictable long-term outcome.
While knee replacement is very effective it is a challenging surgery to recover from, much more so than a hip replacement or shoulder replacement. You should expect improvement after a knee replacement for 6 to 12 months. The majority of improvement will occur in the first two months. Most people require therapy for 2 to 3 months after surgery and most people will not return to work for 2 to 3 months after surgery. Typically physical therapy is performed in the home for the first two weeks after surgery and then on an outpatient basis for at least 2 to 3 months after surgery. The hospital stay after knee replacement is typically two days.