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Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement surgery is the replacement of the damaged, worn or diseased knee joint surfaces with artificial components made of metal and plastic.

Knee replacement is an extremely effective treatment for severe knee osteoarthritis and restores quality of life to patients. This type of knee surgery is performed over 72,000 times in the UK every year and has overtaken hip replacement in quantity and cost.

Further information on knee replacement surgery is available at MedicineNet.com and Wikipedia's knee replacement page.

To qualify for knee replacement surgery a patient should have:


  • Significant knee pain either on activity, at rest or both

  • Pain interferes with sleep

  • Loss of joint movement

  • Loss of normal function such as very limited mobility, walking distances etc.

  • Non surgical treatments such as physiotherapy have not been successful


With an osteoarthritic knee the initial surgical treatment may be via arthroscopy. This allows the joint surfaces to be inspected to see how severe the damage is and the surgeon can also tidy up any rough areas or trim cartilage damage. A washout is often performed as well but scientific work does not support the usefulness of this procedure. Knee arthroscopy however can be very useful to treat specific knee problems and this may delay the need for knee replacement.

The knee should be stable if a knee replacement is going to be successful and if there is ligamentous instability consideration may be given to knee ligament surgery or to a more restricted form of knee implant such as a hinged type.

After knee replacement physiotherapy is very important to get the joint strong to hold the bodyweight, increase range of knee bending and to get a good walking pattern established with the crutches. The need for physio varies with individuals but some people will need several months of work to get the best out of their new knee.

It's even possible to try your own hand at this by playing a knee surgery game or virtual knee surgery 2 game, both of which allow you to replace someone's knee without anything horrible going wrong!


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