Knee joint replacement

What is knee joint replacement?

In some cases, people who have suffered from long-term knee pain may be recommended a full or partial knee joint replacement, also known as arthroplasty. This may be because of chronic conditions such as arthritis which can cause inflammation around the joints, or knee deformity, injury or gout.  

This is a common procedure that involves replacing a damaged or diseased knee with an artificial joint.  

Full knee replacement procedures are most commonly completed on patients over 60, who have undertaken previous treatment such as steroid injections or osteotomies (a type of surgery that cuts or reshapes the bone) but are still left with chronic pain and reduced mobility. Partial knee replacement is more common for people aged between 55 and 64.  

Knee joint replacement is now the most common form of joint replacement in surgery, with osteoarthritis being the most common reason for it.  

Ready to book now? Get in touch to discuss your needs and decide on the best course of treatment for you.

Ready to book now? Get in touch to discuss your needs and decide on the best course of treatment for you.

How to prepare for knee joint replacement surgery?

It’s important to stay as active as you can prior to knee joint replacement surgery. Even gentle exercise such as swimming and walking will help to strengthen the muscles around your knee, and help promote quicker recovery. You may be given a simple set of exercises to complete prior to your surgery.   

Prior to your procedure, your consultant will undertake pre-operative assessment to make sure you’re ready for surgery. They may ask you about any anaesthetics you’ve had previously, and whether you experienced any side effects. You will also receive information on what to eat and drink on the day of the surgery, medicines management, recovery and rehabilitation. Anaesthetics are usually safer with an empty stomach, so you’ll normally be asked not to eat anything several hours before your operation.   

You’re likely to experience reduced mobility after the procedure, so ask a friend or a family member to help take you to and from the clinic and to provide help in the days and weeks afterwards.  

What happens during knee joint replacement surgery?

Knee replacement surgery is usually performed under a general anaesthetic (where you are fully unconscious throughout) or a spinal anaesthetic (you are conscious but have no feeling from below the waist).   

The surgeon will firstly remove the worn out ends of the bones in the knee joint, and then replace these with a prosthesis (made to measure replacement normally made out of plastic and metal).  Depending on the damage to your knee, you may need a full knee replacement, or partial. Normally, most people will have a full knee replacement. In a total knee replacement, both sides of the knees are replaced. This normally takes around 1 to 3 hours. A partial knee operation is less complex, and will take less time. You’ll then be moved to a recovery area to come round from your anaesthetic. 

How to recover from knee joint replacement surgery?

Recovery times can vary but you can expect to require an overnight stay for a full knee joint replacement. Once discharged, you’ll be given advice from your consultant or a physiotherapist on how to maintain your mobility at home. You might need some extra help at first, for example, a walking frame or crutches but most people stop using these around 6 weeks after surgery.  

 It can take up to two years for a full recovery from full knee replacement surgery, as the scar tissue and muscles need time to heal and strengthen.  

Complications and risks

Knee replacement surgery is very common, and the majority of people do not experience any complications. As with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks alongside the benefits.  

Complications are rare, but may include: 

  • A blood clot in a limb, also known as deep vein thrombosis 
  • Infection within the joint, also known as septic arthritis 
  • Infection of the wound 
  • Bleeding inside the joint 
  • Accidental ligament, artery or nerve damage 
  • Persistent knee pain 
  • A break in the bone around the knee during or after the operation  

Rarely, the knee joint may not be completely stable after surgery and may require an additional procedure in order to correct it.  

Ways to pay

Paying for yourself

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Spread the cost

A fixed term loan, provided by our partners Chrysalis Finance, will allow you to spread the cost of treatment and allow you to pay in monthly instalments over a time period to suit you.

Medical insurance

If you have private medical insurance you can get referred to a Healthshare Clinic for the very best treatment. Contact your insurance provider to pre-authorise your treatment today.

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