A knee replacement is a surgical procedure involving the replacement of the faulty knee joint with a prosthetic. During a total knee replacement, the end of the femur bone is removed and replaced with a metal shell. The end of the lower leg bone (tibia) is also removed and replaced with a plastic piece containing a metal stem. Depending on the condition of the kneecap portion of the knee joint, a plastic "button" may also be added under the kneecap surface.
Good candidates for knee replacement surgery include patients who may be suffering from the following symptoms:
· Severe knee pain that limits their everyday activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of chairs
· Patients who may find it hard to walk more than a few blocks without significant pain or need to use a cane.
· Moderate or severe knee pain while resting, either day or night
· Chronic knee inflammation and swelling that does not improve with rest or medications
· Knee deformity: a bowing in or out of your knee
· Knee stiffness: inability to bend and straighten your knee
· Failure to obtain pain relief from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
· These medications, including aspirin and ibuprofen, often are most effective in the early stages of arthritis. Their effectiveness in controlling knee pain varies greatly from person to person. These drugs may become less effective for patients with severe arthritis
· Failure to substantially improve with other treatments such as cortisone injections, physical therapy, or other surgeries
Knee replacement surgery requires general anesthesia. Once you are under general sedate, an 8-12 inch incision is made in the front of the knee. The damaged part of the joint is removed from the surface of the bones; the surfaces are shaped to hold a metal or plastic artificial joint. The artificial joint is attached to the thigh bone, shin and knee cap either with cement or a special material. When fit together, the attached artificial parts form a joint, relying on the surrounding muscles and ligaments for support and function.