Total knee replacement may be necessary with severe damage or when other treatments have failed in alleviating pain or improving movement. Knee replacement often comes after cartilage, which cushions the joint, becomes so damaged that the knee is constantly painful and stiff.
Surgery for total knee replacement lasts 1-2 hours and involves replacing the entire joint with an artificial prosthesis. There are several types of procedures, but the more common type uses a prosthesis that is attached with surgical cement.
The prosthesis is made up of three parts: the tibial component that replaces the top of the tibia (shin) bone, the femoral compartment that replaces the bottom of the femur (thigh) bone, and the patellar component that resurfaces the bottom of the kneecap that rubs against the thigh bone.
Patients are often walking after 4-6 weeks, but physical therapy is necessary to get full function back. Full recovery can take 6-12 months.