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Having a Knee Replacement

Knee replacement surgery

A knee replacement is a type of surgery that takes out the damaged knee joint and replaces it with parts made of metal, plastic, or ceramic. You should have less pain and more movement in your knee after surgery.

There are 3 types of knee replacement surgeries:

  • Total knee replacement: The entire knee joint is taken out and replaced with new parts.
  • Partial knee replacement: Only the most diseased or damaged part of the knee is taken out and replaced with new parts.
  • Knee revision: The parts used to replace the knee have become damaged or loose and have to be taken out and replaced with new ones.

The type of surgery you need and the parts you get depend on:

  • the condition of your knee
  • your age
  • your weight
  • the activities you like to do

Your surgeon will speak with you about what is best fo​r you.

Below are 2 images of what a total knee replacement might look like from the inside. This surgery used metal and plastic parts.

Front view after a knee replacementFront view after a knee replacement, metal thigh bone, plastic shin bone, and metal shin bone

Side view after a knee replacementSide view after a knee replacement, plastic knee cap

Credit: All images on this page belong to the Bone and Joint Health ​​Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Health Services.

Why do I need a knee replacement?

You may need a knee replacement because the cartilage (or cushioning) between the bones in your knee has worn away. This causes the bones to rub against each other, which causes pain and stiffness in your knee.

There are a few reasons your healthcare team may suggest a knee replacement:

  • Pain keeps you awake at night.
  • Pain and stiffness in your knee causes you to cut back or stop your normal, everyday activities.
  • You’ve tried other treatments (like exercise and medicine), and they didn’t help.

Does the surgery have risks?

Knee replacement surgery is usually safe, but there are some risks. Your surgeon and healthcare team will talk to you about the risks.

​Infection​
Blood clots
Heart attack, lung problems, stroke, allergic reactions
A break in the bone around your new joint
Nerve damage, bleeding, or injury to a blood vessel
Knee stiffness
The new knee parts become loose

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