What to expect from a Total Knee Replacement

Posted on 21 October 2020

An artificial knee joint, made from metal, ceramic and plastic, is designed to move and function like your natural knee.

When Eileen Cunningham, an 86 year old grandmother, could no longer walk the length of a shopping aisle without experiencing intense pain in her knee, she knew she’d soon need surgery. Her orthopaedic surgeon advised her that she was a good candidate for a total knee replacement and although she admits that she was concerned about the pain and recovery time she would experience, she says she was pleasantly surprised by her smooth post-operative rehabilitation. ‘I did my exercises religiously and am now able to walk further than I have been able to in years,’ she says, adding she has a modest 15-centimetre scar.

‘If you have severe knee pain due to age-related osteoarthritis, traumatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or a severe fracture – and have exhausted all conservative options such as medication and exercise– you might be a candidate for a total knee replacement,’ says Dr David Brown, an orthopaedic surgeon at Mediclinic Emfuleni. ‘This procedure involves the shaping of all the bony surfaces within the knee in order to accommodate metal and polyethylene implants which resurface all compartments of the knee thereby reducing symptoms of pain and swelling.’

Dr Brown explains that a total knee-replacement (TKR) operation typically lasts about 90 minutes. ‘It’s a highly sophisticated process that is used to achieve a the best overall alignment of the affected knee. These artificial components are then implanted into the bone.’

To decide whether you should have a total knee replacement (knee arthroplasty), your surgeon will assess your knee motion, stability, strength, and overall leg alignment.

X-rays will help pinpoint the extent of damage in your knee and other tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can determine the condition of the bone and soft tissue of your knee.

‘Most people who have total knee replacement surgery experience significant improvement in quality of life as they are able to perform common activities and suffer far less pain,’ says Dr Brown. And there’s no need to wait. ‘Although many patients postponed elective surgical procedures, such as knee surgery, because of fears of transmitting the virus during the peak of the pandemic, there is no longer any need to delay. Mediclinic hospitals and staff have all the correct Covid-19 measures in place to ensure your safety.’


Published in Orthopaedics

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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