Knee Replacement

Introduction

The knee is the largest joint in the body and carries half the human’s body weight. It is therefore put under a lot of stress and is used daily. Naturally, it is prone to wear and tear, injury and arthritis and can cause a great deal of pain to the sufferer if it is damaged or diseased.

Knee replacement surgery involves replacing a damaged or diseased knee with an artificial joint.

It is a standard treatment for arthritic knees and is usually undertaken when the patient’s quality of life is affected by the knee because of severe pain or immobility.

The type of joint replacement depends on the area of the knee that is damaged or diseased. A knee joint can either be partially replaced where just the knee cap alone is replaced, or the entire knee can be replaced.

A knee replacement will increase the mobility of the sufferer, reduce the pain and increase the standard of living.

Most knee replacements are made of Cobalt Chrome Titanium alloys with a high density Polyethylene plastic insert. 

Symptoms

  • Knee arthritis
  • Injury
  • Difficult carrying out daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs, standing
  • Trauma to the knee
  • Extreme pain in the knee
  • A swollen or stiff knee

Investigation

  • A medical history check
  • Physical examination of the knee assessing its movement and strength
  • X-ray
  • Blood tests
  • MRI scans

The surgery involves making an incision in the leg. All of the muscles, blood vessels and nerves are protected during surgery and special tools are used to remove the surface of the bone.

This enables the new components to be firmly fitted. The artificial knee is then implanted by shaping the bone to form a tight fit with the prosthesis. The prosthesis is coated with a special material allowing bone to grow on the surface.

The wound is closed with internal stitches and clips and tape are secured to the skin making sure that the ligaments and muscles are secured together.

Following surgery, walking aids may be needed for up to six weeks and older patients may need assistance for longer. Patients usually remain in hospital for a week following the operation.

The exercise programme is an important part of the recovery process.

Initially, gentle exercises are undertaken to stretch and strengthen the new knee. Physiotherapy will then look to build the quadriceps, gluteal and hamstring muscles.

Once the knee has regained full strength it is encouraged to continue in physical activity such as walking and swimming. It is recommended that high impact and contact sports are avoided to let the knee recover and build strength.