Total Knee Replacement

Nearly 800,000 knee replacement surgeries are performed throughout the United States every year. For most of these patients, a total knee replacement means a way to regain lost mobility, diminish pain, and return to the daily activities you enjoy most.

Total knee replacement is a good option for those who have significant osteoarthritis of the knee or damage to the joint. This damage can cause significant pain, swelling of the knee, and limit your ability to get around. Replacing the diseased cartilage with a synthetic joint can help get you moving again!

Who is Total Knee Replacement For?

In general, there is no age or weight requirement for a total knee replacement. The procedure can, therefore, be performed on a wide variety of patients. What tends to matter most is the condition and presentations associated with your knee.

Good candidates for knee replacement will:

  • Present with noticeable osteoarthritis or significant damage to the cartilage of the knee.
  • No longer respond well to non-surgical treatments, such as cortisone injections, physical therapy, or viscosupplementation injections.
  • Experience knee pain or stiffness that limits their daily activities.
  • Experience knee pain even while resting.
  • Notice a bowing or other deformation of the knee.
  • Experience significant inflammation around the knees. 

Every candidate for total knee replacement will be evaluated based on their symptoms and on the results of imaging diagnostics. Your orthopedic surgeon will likely order an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI to get a sense of the damage to your knee.

Do I Really Need Surgery?

While knee replacement surgery is typically a very effective procedure, it is usually not the first treatment option most orthopedic physicians will pursue. 

In most cases, your orthopedic doctor will want to make sure you have exhausted all non surgical options before recommending this procedure. Those options may include physical therapy, medication, and (when applicable) lifestyle changes.

What Happens During Knee Replacement Surgery?

During a knee replacement procedure, your diseased or injured knee joint will be surgically removed and replaced with a prosthetic version. 


The process usually begins with a series of pre-operative meetings, during which you’ll have a chance to meet with Dr. Leupold or Dr. Rierson to discuss any concerns or questions you might have. You’ll also talk about things you can do to help prepare for your procedure. 


The orthopedic surgeons at Lakes Regional Healthcare will typically perform total knee replacement as an outpatient procedure. This means you’ll usually be able to return home on the same day as your procedure.


Total knee replacement surgery is performed under general anesthesia, so you’ll be asleep during your procedure. During the procedure:

  • Your surgeon will make an incision over the knee.
  • Then, your surgeon will evaluate the damage to your knee and the extent of disease that may be present. 
  • The damaged or diseased knee tissue and cartilage surfaces will be removed. 
  • Your leg bones will be prepared for the prosthetic knee. This usually involves removing a small portion of the tibia and a small portion of the femur.
  • The prosthetic implant is then placed in the knee. Most modern prosthetics use a form of surgical cement to ensure the new knee stays firmly in place.
  • Once the joint is replaced, your incision will be closed, using sutures or staples (whichever is more appropriate).

Typically, the entire procedure will take between 1-2 hours. Once the procedure is complete, you’ll be moved into a room for the first stage of your recovery.


Total Knee Replacement Recovery

Many patients want to know what to expect during their total knee replacement recovery period. That’s understandable. Recovery can often be the most intimidating part of the procedure. But your care team from Lakes Regional Healthcare will be there to help you through every step of the process!


The recovery process begins on the first day of your surgery. After your procedure, a specialist will help you stand and ensure that your knee bears your weight. You may be given a cane, walker, or other assistive device. Most people use these devices for several weeks after their procedure.


Over the course of the next few weeks, you’ll gradually start building on your activity levels, and following your physical therapist’s instructions. You will be given individualized recovery instructions. And you’ll also be told how to watch for complications such as infections or blood clots.


Most patients will recover a large portion of their knee mobility after surgery. However, it’s rare for patients to recover total knee mobility. You should be able to walk, sit up, get out of a car, and do other standard activities with only minimal pain and discomfort.

Should I Get a Total Knee Replacement?

Total knee replacement results have been known to last for at least 15-20 years or longer, and the vast majority of these procedures are very successful. However, only you and your orthopedic surgeon can decide when the time is right to undergo this surgery.

Talk to Dr. Leupold or Dr. Rierson today to find out more about how a knee replacement procedure might work for you.