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A total knee replacement replaces the worn ends of the thigh bone (femur) and the lower leg bone (tibia) where they meet at the knee. Sometimes the surface of the patella (kneecap) is replaced too. You may want this surgery if you have knee pain, stiffness, swelling, or problems moving your knee that you cannot treat in other ways. For most people, these problems are caused by arthritis. They can also be caused by a knee injury.
If you need to have both knees replaced, you may have both surgeries at the same time. Or your doctor may recommend doing one knee at a time. Your doctor would replace the second knee after you recover from the first knee surgery. Recovery after a double knee replacement takes longer than after a single replacement.
Before surgery, you will get medicine to make you sleep or feel relaxed. If you will be awake during surgery, you will also get a shot of medicine into your spine to make your legs numb.
There are 3 types of knee replacement surgeries:
There are two types of replacement joints. They are:
Your doctor may also use a combination of cemented and uncemented parts.
Your doctor makes a cut, called an incision, on the front of your knee. Your doctor then:
The doctor finishes the surgery by closing your incision with stitches, staples, skin glue, or tape strips.
Your knee will be swollen and will hurt when you move it. You'll need to take pain medicine for a time after surgery. Most people will start to walk with a walker or crutches the day of surgery. Don’t try to change your position or get out of bed until it is safe to do so on your own.
You'll start rehabilitation (rehab) before you leave the hospital. Rehab will help you improve strength and movement in your knee.
You may need some extra support or help at home for the first few weeks.
After you recover, you should be able to do certain activities.
The first 3 months after surgery You may notice a click in your operated knee or feel numb on the outside of your knee. Clicking and numbness are common for several months after surgery. They usually go away over time. Tell your healthcare team if the clicking hurts. Good activities for the first 3 months after surgery are:
After 3 months If you’re feeling ready 3 months after surgery, you might try some of the following activities you enjoy:
Activities to avoid Talk to your surgeon about any sports or other activities that involve:
For more information on physiotherapy services in Alberta go to Physiotherapy Services.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Adaptation Date: 10/10/2023
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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