Total Knee Replacement / Arthroplasty
The knee is the largest joint in the body and consists of the femur (thigh bone), patella (knee cap) and tibia (shin bone). The surface of each bone is covered in cartilage, a smooth and slippery material that helps bones glide and move without pain. In addition, the knee is unique in that it has two pieces of ring-shaped cartilage that act as “shock absorbers” for the knee during activities, called the lateral and medial meniscus. These menisci (plural of meniscus) are tough but rubbery and protect the knee from injury, but can also become injured themselves as a result of wear and tear or athletic injuries. There are also four primary ligaments that stabilize the knee: anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and lateral collateral ligament (LCL). These ligaments are frequently injured during activities, with the ACL being most common.
Injury to the cartilage is called “arthritis” and can cause pain with any movement or activity. There are different types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis. However, no matter the cause, all types of arthritis are painful due to the loss of healthy cartilage covering the bones. There is no treatment that can successfully replace or re-grow missing cartilage. Thus, in cases of severe arthritis, a total knee replacement (arthroplasty) has been shown to successfully relieve pain while permitting motion and certain activities.
Total Knee Replacement (also called “total knee arthroplasty”) consists of cutting off the damaged cartilage on the femur, the tibia, and usually the patella (knee cap). By replacing the damaged area with smooth stainless steel and poly-ethylene plastic, the knee joint is re-created to allow motion and eliminate pain. However, a total knee replacement is not right for everyone and the decision to proceed with surgery requires a candid discussion with your surgeon about your medical problems, overall health, and the possible complications during and after the procedure.
The success of a total knee replacement surgery is highly depending upon your commitment to rehabilitation before and after your procedure. You will be expected to participate in motion and strengthening exercises the day after your surgery to prevent stiffness and improve your motion. In addition, these exercises will help circulate blood to your leg to improve healing and prevent blood clots. Exercises should be performed in a supervised setting with a trained physical therapist, as well as at home on your own time. Your commitment to rehabilitation is key to a successful outcome, and return of full strength may take up to one year.