August 01, 2011

Knee replacement

The conservative treatments you've used to manage your knee pain just aren't working. The next step is to replace the joint.

Knee replacement

The conservative treatments you've used to manage your knee pain just aren't working. The next step is to replace the joint.

More than half a million adults have knee joint replacements every year. The procedure, also known as knee arthroplasty (ARTH-ro-plas-tee), can significantly help relieve pain and improve function in severely diseased knee joints.

Making the decision with your surgeon to have your knee replaced involves consideration of risks and benefits. It also means preparing for a dedicated rehabilitation effort in the weeks and months after surgery.

A knee apart

The knee is a complex hinge joint. It not only allows you to bend and extend your lower leg, but it also has built-in roll-and-glide features.

Normally, joint surfaces in your knee are covered with cartilage, a smooth, cushiony substance that enables the underside of your kneecap (patella) and the ends of your thighbone (femur) and lower leg bone (tibia) to move against each other with ease.

A thin tissue lining (synovium) covers the remaining bone surfaces and releases fluid that lubricates the knee. Ligaments attached to bones in the upper and lower leg provide stability. Long muscles in the thigh provide strength and further stability.

Total knee replacement surgery is most commonly done to improve pain and function resulting from joint damage caused by conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a more common disease that usually occurs as people get older. It's marked by loss of cartilage and sometimes bone on the surfaces of the knee joint. Rheumatoid...