Knee Replacement

Knee replacement is an increasingly common procedure performed in this country. It is offered to patients when they have failed conservative management of their knee arthritis. Maximizing their conservative management prior to knee replacement typically includes physical therapy, NSAIDs, acetaminophen, ice, hyaluronic acid and cortisone injections. When this has failed and the patient’s knee pain is having an impact on their work, sports, recreational activities, and sleep, knee replacement is typically offered.

Knee replacement can include partial and complete knee replacements. This depends upon the extent of arthritis within the knee. At Washington University, we typically use a muscle splitting minimally invasive approach that has had good results. Gender differences are considered in choosing prosthesis. The replacement involves cutting the bones and replacing the damaged surfaces with plastic and metal components. This typically involves a 2 to 3 day stay in the hospital followed by an extensive rehabilitation process that may occur in the home or in an outpatient physical therapy setting. Typically by six weeks, patients are ready to return to most occupations. Sports and recreation activities such as golf, cycling, and distance walking occurs at three months. The results of knee replacement continue to improve with technology. Multiple studies have shown results that would predict greater than 90% longevity for the knee replacement beyond 15 years.

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