Your knee joint is where the thighbone fits onto the shinbone. Your patellofemoral joint is where the kneecap glides on the thighbone. These bony surfaces are covered by hard cartilage which cushions the bones when you move your knee. If the hard cartilage wears away, the bones can rub against each other, causing osteoarthritis.
If arthritis is limiting your everyday activities and you can’t manage your pain, a knee replacement might be an option.
Total Knee Replacement
A total knee replacement (arthroplasty) replaces the entire joint with metal and plastic. This surgery can be done inpatient (with a one-night hospital stay) or outpatient, at our Ambulatory Surgical Center, depending upon your health, medical history, insurance, and available help at home. Some individuals may choose to go to a skilled nursing facility for a short time after surgery if they need additional assistance or returning home is unsafe.
In a total knee replacement, your surgeon makes a seven-to-10-inch incision on the front of your knee. Your surgeon slides and tilts your kneecap to look at the rest of your knee joint and assess the damage.
Damaged bone and cartilage is removed, resurfaced, and replaced with two metal components that form your new knee joint. A plastic insert is put between the metal components to absorb force and help your knee glide more naturally. Your kneecap may be smoothed out and flattened before it’s returned to its normal position.
Finally, your surgeon will move your knee around to ensure it works properly.
Surgery can take two to four hours, but recovery from a total knee replacement can take 12 weeks to six months, with regular follow-up appointments for X-rays and exams until the knee is healed.
After knee-replacement surgery, it’s important to challenge and push yourself each day. Patients can do exercises to make their recovery more comfortable and help strengthen thigh and leg muscles.
Partial Knee Replacement
A partial knee replacement is an option for many patients and the process is similar to a total knee replacement.
Candidates for partial knee replacement must have their arthritis confined to the front and inside portion of the knee, and the ACL must be intact. This represents about 40% of patients with knee osteoarthritis.
This is not a stepping-stone procedure. In fact, after 20 years 91% of patients still have their partial knee replacement and have not needed a total knee replacement.
Recovery from a partial knee replacement usually takes three to six months. Individuals with sedentary jobs can return to work in about two weeks. Those returning to more active work may be out six weeks or longer.
After a full recovery, patients with partial knee replacements enjoy the same motion and function as a normal knee.