The knee joint is essential in our ability to walk, run, jump, squat and climb when going about our daily lives. However, several factors, such as ageing, injury, or chronic diseases, can cause damage to the knee, resulting in pain and limited mobility. In severe cases of knee damage, a knee replacement surgery, also known as knee arthroplasty, may be recommended.
The Anatomy of the Knee
The knee consists of ligaments, tendons, and cartilage, which provide stability, support,
and mobility to the knee joint, allowing for smooth and controlled movements. They also protect the joint from excessive stress and impact.
There are three main bones within the knee joint, which are:
Femur: Also known as the thigh bone, this is the largest and strongest upper leg bone.
Tibia: Also known as the shin bone, the tibia is a large, weight-bearing bone that supports many muscles, tendons, nerves and ligaments.
Patella: Also known as the kneecap, this triangular bone at the front of the knee helps protect the knee joint and supports various muscles, tendons and ligaments.
What is a Knee Replacement Surgery?
A knee replacement surgery, also known as a knee arthroplasty, is an orthopaedic procedure that involves
replacing the damaged or diseased parts of the knee joint with artificial components. This surgery helps
relieve pain, improve mobility, and restore normal knee function.
During the procedure, the knee surgeon will remove damaged cartilage and bones, and replace them with
prosthetic implants made of metal alloys or high-grade plastics. These components mimic the natural
structure and function of the knee to allow a smooth and pain-free movement.
Dr Seng Chusheng is an experienced knee replacement surgeon with over 10 years’ experience. For a detailed knee consultation, please call us at 9711 8888 today.
Who Needs Knee Replacement Surgery?
Orthopaedic surgeons typically recommend knee replacement surgery when:
There is severe knee pain or stiffness that significantly affects day-to-day activities, including walking.
There is moderate to severe knee pain even at rest
There is a severe knee deformity
Conservative treatments have not yielded much success in alleviating symptoms and improving function
What Can be Treated with a Knee Replacement?
A knee replacement procedure can effectively treat various conditions, including:
Knee Osteoarthritis: This degenerative condition arises when the protective cartilage in the knee wears away, resulting in joint pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): This is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause pain, swelling and joint deformities in the knee.
Traumatic Injury: A sudden and forceful impact to the knee can result in acute pain, instability and damage to its structures.
Knee Deformities: Knee replacement surgery can be used to treat certain cases of congenital or acquired knee deformities, such as bowed legs or knocked knees.
What Are the Types of Knee Replacement Surgery?
There are several types of knee replacement surgery, depending on the type and severity of the condition to be treated. Common types of knee replacement include:
Total Knee Replacement – In this procedure, the knee surgeon replaces the entire diseased knee joint with artificial components. Total knee replacement is usually performed in individuals with severe knee damage or advanced arthritis.
Unicompartmental (Partial) Knee Replacement – Surgeons normally perform this procedure when the damage affects only one specific component or side of the knee. The surgeon will only replace the damaged portion of the knee, and preserve the healthy parts.
Kneecap Replacement (Patellofemoral Arthroplasty) – This procedure is a type of partial knee replacement that is usually performed when only the area between the patella and the femur (patellofemoral compartment) is damaged.
Revision Knee Replacement – This is performed in cases where a previous knee replacement has failed over time. Knee replacements may fail over time due to infection, trauma, instability, implant dislocation and so on. A revision surgery involves removing the existing prosthetic components and replacing them with new ones.
What Happens Before a Knee Replacement Surgery?
Before proceeding with a knee replacement, your orthopaedic surgeon will perform a physical examination of the knee, as well as arrange for imaging tests, blood tests, and electrocardiography (ECG). Your medical history and list of medications that you are currently taking will also be considered. Your medical team will schedule pre-operative consultations to discuss the procedure, preparatory steps, possible risks, and rehabilitation plans with you.
What to Expect During a Knee Replacement Surgery?
Knee replacement surgery usually takes around 2 to 3 hours under a general anaesthesia or a spinal block. During the procedure, your knee surgeon will create a cut or incision over the knee joint. Then, they will carefully remove the diseased components and fit the prosthetic components in. Once the implants are in place, your surgeon will close the incision, insert a surgical drain to remove fluid, and wrap your knee with dressing and bandage.
What Happens After Knee Arthroplasty?
After a knee replacement surgery, the patient will be transferred to a recovery area where their vital signs will be closely monitored. Pain medication and antibiotics will be given to alleviate discomfort and prevent infection. On the day following the surgery, a physiotherapist will assist the patient in standing up and taking a few steps. The length of hospital stay typically ranges between 3 to 5 days.
On average, it takes about four months to return to most activities, and up to a year to fully recover from a knee replacement surgery. By actively participating in rehabilitation (physiotherapy) and following the guidance of your qualified knee surgeon, patients can expect a smooth and predictable recovery.
On average, a successful knee replacement surgery can last between 15 and 20 years.
What are the Possible Risks and Complications?
Some possible risks and complications following knee replacement surgery include: infection, blood clot formation, nerve damage, clicking or popping in the knee, as well as a loosened implant. However, in the hands of an experienced surgeon, the risks of these complications arising is very rare.
If you are experiencing severe knee pain, stiffness and limited mobility, seek treatment as soon as possible. For consultations, please call us at 9711 8888.
FAQs on Knee Replacement Surgery:
How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Knee Replacement?
Generally, it takes several months or up to a year to regain full mobility and resume normal activities. One’s age, overall health, and adherence to post-operative rehabilitation can greatly influence one’s recovery duration.
How Can One Manage Pain Caused by Knee Replacement Surgery?
Your knee doctor will prescribe painkillers to alleviate discomfort. Proper adherence to physiotherapy as instructed will also help greatly in reducing pain and speeding up recovery.
How Long After a Knee Replacement Surgery Can I Walk?
Typically, you can start using mobility aids, such as crutches or walkers, within a day after knee replacement surgery. As recovery progresses and your strength improves, you can gradually transition to walking without assistance. Your physiotherapist will guide you as you undertake weight-bearing and walking activities.
What Should You Avoid After a Knee Replacement Procedure?
Avoid high-impact exercises and excessive knee bending. Maintaining a balance between rest and controlled activity is crucial in facilitating a smooth recovery.