Total Knee Replacement
The thigh and the leg meet at the knee to form a hinge joint. The bones of the knee joint are the femur and the tibia. This joint is protected by the patella (kneecap) and is cushioned by cartilage. The knee is the largest joint in the human body and supports nearly the whole body during standing, walking, running and jumping. Stressors such as these contribute to both acute injuries as well as the development of chronic knee problems, such as osteoarthritis.
Ligaments are bands of tough connective tissue that run from the femur to the tibia and assist in stabilizing the joint. Ligaments run down both the inside (medial) and the outside (lateral) portions of the knee. These are called the collateral ligaments. The collateral ligaments limit sideways motion. The cruciate ligaments cross from the inside (medial) aspect of the knee and run to the outside (lateral) aspect of the knee. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) will limit rotation and forward motion of the tibia. When the ACL is damaged, it is replaced during ACL Reconstruction. The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is located just behind the ACL limits backward motion of the tibia.
Total knee replacement serves to replace the entire weight bearing portion of the knee. This procedure will remove damaged or worn tissue (cartilage) and replace part of the joint with a man-made replacement which will duplicate the actions of the knee.
The most common reason for joint replacement is to relieve arthritis pain. This procedure may be recommended for you if:
- You experience symptoms of knee arthritis, including knee pain that limits your daily routine.
- You experience unremitting knee pain, despite other treatments.
- The initial incision will be a 5-10 inch cut over the top of the knee.
- The surgeon will examine the damaged joint and remove the worn bone and tissue.
- The replacement prosthetic will be inserted and secured with bone cement once in its proper place.
- The incision will be closed with stitches.
After the procedure, most patients return home one or two days following their surgery. Patients are encouraged to put their full weight on their knee right away and to do as much as they can for themselves. It is encouraged for patients to do as much as they can for themselves, including taking walks, getting up to up to use the bathroom, and using the stairs.
Most patients recover quickly and experience greatly diminished amounts of pain. Recovery times in patients who have total knee replacements are shorter today than they have been in the past. This is primarily due to the improved surgical techniques, improved anesthesia during surgery, and improved pain management after surgery. Most patients with total knee replacements claim that their knees feel much better, and that they regret waiting so long.