More than 70,000 knee replacements are performed every year in England and Wales and the number is continuing to rise. Knee replacement surgery is a routine procedure for people with severe knee pain.
However, some of the patients we see are anxious about the idea of being given prosthetic implants and we understand that the idea of joint replacement can be daunting. You might have unanswered questions.
As orthopaedic surgeons, we spend a lot of time talking to our patients, telling them what to expect, answering their questions and offering reassurance. These are some of the questions we get asked most often about knee replacement surgery:
Is knee replacement surgery right for me?
You will normally only be offered knee replacement surgery if you have severe knee pain that is having a detrimental impact on your quality of life. Less severe pain is normally managed using medication, physiotherapy or in some cases painkilling injections.
However, as the knee joint deteriorates such approaches may no longer provide sufficient pain relief and knee replacement surgery may be recommended.
Common reasons for people to experience worsening knee pain include:
- Osteoarthritis – also called wear and tear arthritis because it normally develops in people over the age of 45. Osteoarthritis is caused by the cartilage in the joint starting to thin and wear away, which can lead to bone rubbing against bone. Symptoms include pain and stiffness.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – this is an autoimmune condition which causes your body’s immune system to attack the cells that line your joints. The result is pain and inflammation.
- Knee injury – this may be the result of trauma from a fall or sporting accident.
- Gout – this is a form of arthritis that causes uric acid to build up in your blood. Tiny crystals can form in and around the joints, causing pain and swelling. It often affects the big toe but can also affect the knees, fingers and ankles.
What does knee replacement surgery involve?
Knee replacement surgery involves removing the damaged section of your knee joint and replacing it with an artificial implant made from metal, ceramic or hard plastic. There are two types of knee replacement surgery:
- Total knee replacement, which entails replacing both sides of your knee joint.
- Partial knee replacement, which involves replacing only one side of your knee joint.
“I had a knee replacement under Mr Gulati. He changed my life. My knee is so much better. Before I had to sit down every five minutes. Now I can walk much better. This was at Homerton hospital. He is doing a great job for Homerton Hospital. He is a very capable surgeon. The aftercare was fantastic.”
Why do I have to wait until the pain is severe before I can have surgery?
Knee replacement surgery is a major procedure and although it is largely safe and effective, like all surgery it carries some risk.
These include a risk of infection in the wound or implant, nerve or artery damage, bleeding in the knee joint and persistent pain or stiffness in the knee. For this reason, surgery will only be offered once other, less invasive approaches have been explored or cease to be effective.
How long will my knee implant last?
Most knee implants last 20 years or longer. After surgery you will be given detailed advice on caring for your new knee to ensure it lasts as long as possible.
What will happen during knee replacement surgery?
Knee replacement surgery is normally performed under general anaesthetic, which means you will be asleep throughout. In some cases you may be given an epidural, which numbs your body from the waist down but you remain conscious throughout.
The surgeon will make an incision in your knee and remove the worn sections of knee joint. These will be replaced with artificial implants that have been chosen to match the natural anatomy of your knee as closely as possible. If you have a total knee replacement both sides of your knee are replaced, which takes around one to three hours.
Partial knee replacements are only offered for around one in four people with osteoarthritis. Recovery times are generally shorter and the knee movement may be more natural, however, partial knee replacements do not generally last as long as total knee replacement. In such cases, revision knee replacement surgery may be needed at a later date to replace the worn-out implant.
Will it work?
Knee replacement surgery is generally considered to be a safe and effective treatment for severe knee pain. It relieves or alleviates pain, restores mobility and allows people to return to most of the activities they enjoy.
“I would like to thank you for all your kindness and care from my first appointment to my last. You explained everything in detail which I appreciated, especially on my last appointment when you showed me the before op and after op pictures of my knee which illustrated how bad my knee was before you actually operated. Thank you so much, I am able to enjoy life again without walking with constant pain as well as doing my job (which includes physical intervention training), without worrying about the pain I would be in afterwards.”
Knee replacement surgery | London
Mr Vivek Gulati is an experienced orthopaedic surgeon with the expertise to perform knee replacement surgery for you.
For your appointment there is a choice of locations:
The London Clinic – 116 Harley Street, London, W1G 7JL, Directions
BMI The London Independent Hospital, 1 Beaumont Square, Stepney Green, London, E1 4NL, Directions
Our Consultation Fees are clearly presented here.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your treatment options with a specialist, please contact the team.