At Tufts Medical Center, our orthopaedic team encourages you to learn as much as you can when considering a knee replacement, and please talk with your doctor and your family too.
About Total Knee Replacement
Similar to total hip replacement, total knee replacement is often recommended for individuals whose knee pain is not alleviated by non-surgical treatments, such as medications, modifications in physical activity, or with the support of walking aids.
A normal knee joint is formed by the ends of three bones: the lower end of the thigh bone (femur), the upper end of the shin bone (tibia), and the kneecap (patella). Ligaments, bands of tissue, connect the bones and provide stability. The ends of the bones are covered with a cartilage lining that prevents the bones from rubbing against each other and allows for flexible, frictionless movement. To further cushion the joint, synovium, a soft tissue, lines the joints and produces a lubricating fluid. Injuries, infection, disease and arthritis are common causes of knee-joint deterioration and pain.
Total knee replacement surgery consists of removing the damaged parts of the knee and replacing it with smooth artificial surfaces. A curved polish metal is used for the end femur, a high-density plastic is used for the end of the tibia, and the kneecap is plastic. These artificial pieces allow for the patient fluid, pain-free movement post-surgery.
About Partial Knee Replacement
An alternative to total knee replacement is partial knee replacement. This procedure places only part of the knee with synthetic materials while allowing for more knee preservation than total knee replacement. Similar to hip resurfacing, partial knee replacement also allows more active patients to return to their normal activity levels prior to the development of their knee problems. Consult your orthopaedic doctor to determine which procedure would best benefit you.
To find out even more about knee joint replacement and other orthopaedic information, visit The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons at AAOS.org.