Total knee replacement is a surgical procedure in which all of a diseased knee joint is removed and replaced with an artificial device (prosthesis). A prosthetic knee is not the same as a healthy body joint, but it does work well. The knee prosthesis is shaped to fit over the ends of bones and is secured to the thighbone (femur), kneecap (patella), and shinbone (tibia).
A total knee prosthesis consists of three basic parts:
- The femoral component, which fits over the thighbone
- The patellar component, which fits over the kneecap
- The tibial component, which is attached to your shinbone
The prosthesis may be made of ceramic, metal, plastic or combination of these materials. Your doctor will discuss the best choice for you, based on your particular diagnosis.
After surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room and monitored. When stabilized, you will return to your hospital room.
Physical therapy is an extremely important part of the success of knee surgery and your full participation is necessary to achieve an optimal outcome. Some degree of pain, discomfort, and stiffness can be expected during the early days of physical therapy. You will start walking using a walker and/or crutches, depending on the type of surgery you had.
A number of home exercises are given to strengthen the leg muscles. The medical staff and therapist will teach you proper movements and exercises to do so that your new knee is protected and heals properly. Whether you’re recovering at home or in a rehabilitation facility, sit and move the way you were taught by the physical therapist. Return to activity slowly. Practice walking a little every day and soon you’ll be able to walk without assistance. Don’t be surprised if you feel a little stiff at first; it may take a few months for complete recovery. It is very important to keep all your scheduled follow-up visits with your surgeon.