The knees are the strongest joints in the human body, allowing the legs to bend and straighten while carrying almost all of the weight of the individual when they are standing. The knees are a hinge joint, but still have substantial capacity for lateral (side-to-side) motion.

Photo of knee replacement surgery

Arthritis is one of the most common and crippling conditions to affect the knee joint, but other conditions can cause knee pain as well. When exercise, weight loss, medication and other treatments no longer provide sufficient relief from knee pain, you should consider surgical alternatives. Knee replacement can offer dramatic pain relief and increased range of motion.

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What is Knee Replacement Surgery?

There are two types of knee replacement surgery: total and partial.

Total knee replacement, by far the most common, is a surgical procedure that removes all diseased joint surfaces in the knee and replaces them with artificial surfaces. A total knee replacement provides all new weight-bearing surfaces in the knee joint. It serves to decrease pain and increase motion in the joint since the synthetic metal and plastic surfaces do not have any nerves.

Total knee replacement involves all three compartments (or sub-joints) in the knee. Usually all three compartments are all worn out by arthritis, but in some knees, only one or two compartments might be arthritic. If so, the affected compartments can be replaced selectively, thereby preserving bone and minimizing surgery. Such knee replacements are called partial knee replacements. 

How Long Does it Take to Recover From Knee Replacement Surgery?

Most patients are happy, mobile and about 70 percent to 80 percent recovered by one month. Some aches and stiffness can persist for many months. The last 5 percent to 10 percent of soreness, achiness and stiffness can take a year or two to subside completely. 

Learn More About Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee Replacement Surgery Guide