What is Knee Replacement and Knee Replacement Surgery?

Last Updated : 09/15/20182 min read

According to the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, doctors most commonly suggest knee replacement because of damage and pain caused by conditions such as osteoarthritis. When patients suffer from osteoarthritis, cartilage breaks down. This allows the bones to rub together, and patients feel pain and may develop bone spurs because of the friction.

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Doctors may also recommend knee replacement surgery because of serious injuries, tumors, rheumatoid arthritis, and other medical conditions that cause pain and loss of function.

Good candidates for knee replacement

Doctors may not always suggest knee replacement as the first type of treatment. The NIH reports that although many people have knee replacement surgery, certain health conditions or advanced age may disqualify some patients.

Typically, people who are in fairly good general health and choose to have knee replacement surgery before they suffer advanced knee damage have better results and recover more quickly, according to the NIH. Possible complications could include (but aren’t limited to) blood clots, nerve damage, and infections, the Mayo Clinic reports. Some knee replacement patients may have to permanently abstain from certain high-impact activities, and in some cases the replacement joints can wear out.

Before suggesting knee replacement surgery, says the NIH website, doctors may recommend:

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  • Medication to relieve pain and inflammation
  • Exercise and physical therapy to strengthen supporting muscles
  • Walking aids to reduce physical stress on knees

If these options don’t work, doctors may suggest surgery.

Understanding knee replacement surgery

Doctors may prescribe either a total or partial knee replacement, depending upon the situation. The National Library of Medicine describes a total knee replacement as the replacement of all damaged cartilage and bone. A partial knee replacement only replaces part of the joint. Manufacturers produce replacement parts made from plastic and metal.

Medicare may cover knee replacement surgery.

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