Total Knee Replacement

Knee joint replacement is an effective treatment for end stage pain, stiffness and dysfunction of the knee. The most common reason for knee joint replacement is osteoarthritis. It can initially be treated by maintaining a healthy weight, physiotherapy, over the counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications and walking aids.

Surgery is considered if these measures fail to control pain and disability. The goal of surgery is long-term relief of pain and maximising function. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will I be in hospital?

You will be allowed home once you can safely manage in your home environment to continue your rehabilitation under the supervision of your therapist. This will depend on your preoperative fitness, home environment, supports and medical comorbidities.

  • Keep physically active with low impact exercises that does not exacerbate your pain
  • Make any modifications to your home you need to manage after surgery and arrange a friend of family member to help in your early recovery once you return home.
  • Smoking increases the risk of surgical and anaesthetic complications and impairs healing. The longer you can stop smoking prior to surgery the lower the risks.  
  • If you have diabetes ensure you optimise your control with your GP to minimise your risk of infection and wound healing problems.
  • If you have dental problems please have these addressed prior to your surgery as dental disease can cause infection of your joint replacement. 
  • Ensure you do not have any abrasions or infections, especially on your operative leg. If you have a skin problem prior to surgery contact your surgeon.

In the majority of cases a spinal anasthetic with sedation is used to improve your postoperative pain and minimise the risk of complications. In the early recovery you may have a nerve block to help with pain management and improve early mobilization. There are multiple options which will be discussed with you by your anaesthetist and surgeon.

Due to advances in prosthesis design and manufacture coupled with improved surgical techniques; artificial joints are lasting longer than ever before. According to the Australian National Joint Registry 95 out of 100 knee joint prosthesis are still functioning well at 10-15 years and some have lasted more than 25 years. There is a higher revision rate in younger and more active patients. The leading causes of failure are fracture, infection and loosening.

You will be allowed to drive once you are off strong pain medications which affect your alertness and can perform an emergency stop. This is usually 4-6 weeks post surgery on the right knee but should be discussed with your surgeon at your postoperative checkups.
Most patients return to a desk based role or modified duties by 6 weeks and more active roles by 8 weeks.

As with any invasive surgery there are risks, however these vary based on your physical fitness and medical conditions so will be explained by your surgeon during your consultation.

After 3 months you should be back to most of your usual activities. You may find that you can return to activities you have not been able to do for some time because of your knee pain. Safe activities include doubles tennis, skiing, golf, bowls, cycling and swimming. As a general rule high contact sports such as competition soccer, basketball or rugby are not recommended.

This page is a brief overview and not designed to be all-inclusive. If you have any further queries, please contact us.

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