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» Knee Joint Replacement, Part 1
Knee Joint Replacement, Part 1

The orthopedic procedure of knee joint replacement is called a total knee arthroplasty (TKA). This surgery involves replacing the existing knee joint with a man-made one. Orthopedic surgeons replace knee joints in order to end pain, stiffness, and loss of function. Proper physical therapy and exercise will help restore strength and mobility to the knee and a gradual return to everyday activities after knee replacement.

In this article, we will discuss the role physical therapy plays in recovery after Knee Replacement Surgery.


Reasons for a Knee Joint Replacement

Both chronic osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis commonly cause people to lose knee function and damage the joint to the degree that they need a knee joint replacement (total knee arthroplasty or TKA). But knee damage may also stem from injury or infection. Sometimes, people with severe rheumatoid arthritis of the knee can require a TKA at an early age.


Knee Joint Replacement Surgery

During knee joint replacement surgery, the damaged parts of the knee joint are removed and manufactured components (prosthesis) are then placed in the knee. The prosthesis can have both metal and plastic parts. Some newer prostheses now are made of metal on metal, ceramic on ceramic, or ceramic on plastic.

The surgery for total knee replacement lasts about two hours and involves an incision over the knee. The thighbone and shinbone will be cut to prepare them for the new pieces. The patella will be moved at the beginning of the procedure, and later a bone cement will be utilized to fasten the prosthesis to it. This is the traditional way the procedure has been performed. Several modifications to the procedure can be made and partial knee replacements are options for certain joints, as well.

During the procedure, you will either have general anesthesia (when you are fully asleep) or a regional block (spinal or epidural with more localized anesthesia) that numbs your legs combined with an intravenous medication that will sedate you during the procedure. Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both techniques.

You will usually leave the hospital within a few days of the procedure and attend a rehabilitation facility that will help you get used to your new knee and eventually help you return to all your activities and hopefully many that you gave up due to pain or inability of your "old" knee to handle. 


Follow-up after a Knee Joint Replacement

Follow your orthopedist's recommended schedule of visits and physical therapy. If emergency problems arise, go to an emergency department and then follow up with your orthopedist. The emergency doctor may contact your orthopedist during your emergency department visit to discuss and coordinate care. He or she may take X-rays or blood tests to help with your evaluation.



Next week, we will go into the physical exercises a patient needs for recovery from Knee Replacement Surgery.

If you need post-operative therapy after Knee Replacement Surgery, please visit Excel Rehabilitation Services on Burnside Ave. in Gonzales, Louisiana. You will receive personal care from a professional physical therapist!


Online Sources:






Firestein, Gary, et al. Kelley & Firestein's Textbook of Rheumatology, 10th Ed. China: Elsevier, 2016

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