Knee joint replacement - Recovery
Total knee replacement; Knee arthroplasty; Knee replacement - total; Tricompartmental knee replacement; Subastus knee replacement; Knee replacement - minimally invasive; Knee arthroplasty - minimally invasive
Why the Procedure Is Performed:
The most common reason to have a knee joint replaced is to relieve severe arthritis pain. Your doctor may recommend knee joint replacement when:
- You're having symptoms of knee arthritis, such as:
- You can't sleep through the night because of knee pain
- Your knee pain limits or keeps you from being able to do your normal activities, such as bathing, preparing meals, and household chores
- You can't walk and take care of yourself
- Your knee pain has not improved with other treatment
- You understand what surgery and recovery will be like
Knee joint replacement is usually done in people ages 60 and older. Younger people who have a knee joint replaced may put extra stress on the artificial knee and cause it to wear out early.
Some medical problems may lead your doctor to recommend that you not have the surgery. Some of these problems are:
- Knee infection
- Morbid obesity (weighing over 300 pounds)
- Poor blood flow in the leg
- Unhealthy skin around your knee
- Very weak quadriceps, the muscles in the front of your thigh. Weak quadriceps could make it very hard for you to walk and use your knee.
After the Procedure:
You will stay in the hospital for 3 to 5 days, but full recovery will take from 2 to 3 months to a year.
- You will have a large dressing (bandage) over your knee. A small drainage tube will be placed during surgery to help drain fluids that build up in your knee joint after surgery. It will be removed when you no longer need it.
- You will have an IV (a catheter or tube that is inserted into a vein, usually in your arm).
- You may have a Foley catheter inserted into your bladder to drain urine. Usually it is removed 2 or 3 days after surgery.
- You will wear special compression stockings on your legs. These stockings improve blood flow and reduce your risk of getting blood clots.
- Most people will also receive blood-thinning medicine to reduce the risk of blood clots.
- You may be taught how to use a device called a spirometer and do deep breathing and coughing exercises. Doing these exercises will help prevent pneumonia.
- Your doctor will prescribe pain medicines to control your pain. Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.
You will be encouraged to start moving and walking as soon as the first day after surgery.
- You will be helped out of bed to a chair on the first day after surgery. When you are in bed, bend and straighten your ankles often to prevent blood clots.
- You will be encouraged to do as much you can for yourself by the second day. This includes going to the bathroom or taking walks in the hallways, always with someone helping you.
- Some surgeons recommend using a continuous passive motion machine (CPM) while you are in bed. The CPM bends your knee for you. Over time, the rate and amount of bending will increase. If you are using this machine, always keep your leg in the CPM when you are in bed. It will help speed your recovery and reduce pain, bleeding, and risk of infection.
Some people need a short stay in a rehabilitation center after they leave the hospital and before they go home. At a rehab center, you will learn how to safely do your daily activities on your own.
The results of a total knee replacement are often excellent. The operation relieves pain for most people, and most people do not need help walking after they fully recover. Most artificial knee joints last 10 to 15 years. Some last as long as 20 years before they loosen and need to be replaced again.
- Reviewed last on: 12/20/2010
- C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Crockarell JR, Guyton JL. Arthroplasty of the knee. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 6.
Jones CA, Beaupre LA, Johnston DW, Suarez-Almazor ME. Total joint arthroplasties: current concepts of patient outcomes after surgery. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2007; 33(1): 71-86.
Leopold SS. Minimally invasive total knee arthroplasty for osteoarthritis. N Engl J Med. 2009;360:1749-1758.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the
diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be
consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all
medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not
constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-
A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885