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5 things you need to know about having a knee replacement


Knee replacement surgery was first performed in 1968. Since then, improvements in surgical materials and techniques have greatly increased its effectiveness. Total knee replacement is now a common procedure with a high success rate that can relieve arthritis pain and help people to walk easier. But what do you need to know if you are considering the procedure? Mr Mandeep Lamba, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at The Holly Private Hospital explains.

Getting a diagnosis

You should talk to your doctor about knee replacement surgery if your knee arthritis is causing you significant pain that is not controlled with simple painkillers and/or is interfering with your daily activities or quality of life. Your doctor will make the diagnosis by firstly asking you questions about your symptoms and by examining your knee. X-rays will then be performed to confirm the diagnosis. A knee replacement is a common type of surgery with approximately 90,000 knee replacements performed each year in the United Kingdom alone.

What knee replacement surgery involves

Knee replacement surgery involves removing your knee joint and replacing it with an artificial knee. You may have a general anaesthetic where you will be unconscious for the surgery, alternatively, you may be numbed from the waist downwards and be awake for the surgery. An incision is made over the knee cap which is moved to one side in order to access the joint and replace it. The prosthesis is usually cemented into place after which the incision is closed with stitches or skin clips at the end of the procedure. The surgery takes about 60 minutes on average to perform. Patients are usually admitted to hospital on the day of surgery and stay in hospital between three and four days after surgery.

What knee replacements are made from and what is their lifespan

The metals used in artificial knees are alloys of cobalt-chromium and titanium. The bearing portion of the joint is made of a high-grade wear-resistant plastic. The metal-plastic bearing combination is the most common type used in knee replacement implants worldwide. Knee replacements are expected to last approximately fifteen to twenty years however they may wear or loosen earlier.

The benefits of knee replacement surgery

Having a new knee joint should help to relieve your pain, improve your ability to move around, increase the function of your knee and enhance your quality of life. However, each patient is different and it is important to be realistic about the outcomes of your operation. Your consultant will talk through all of this with you before your operation so you are fully aware of how a new knee joint may help.

Resuming normal activities

Hospital staff will help you to get up and walk about as quickly as possible after surgery. Some patients are even able to get up and walk the same day as their surgery. You will need to follow a programme of rehabilitation afterwards but a physiotherapy team can teach you exercises to help strengthen your knee and explain how to increase the longevity of your new knee. Generally you should be able to stop using crutches within four to six weeks and feel more or less normal after three months, by which time you should be able to perform all your normal activities of daily living.

Mandeep Lamba has clinics at The Holly Private Hospital every Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and alternate Mondays and Tuesdays. To book an appointment call 020 3925 1323.

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