Knee Replacement

When Should I Have a Knee Replacement?

At the St. Elizabeth our orthopedic team believes in looking at the entire picture when determining if a patient is ready for knee replacement surgery. Our comprehensive approach includes evaluating your knee and having a thorough discussion about your quality of life and level of activity. If your knee is currently slowing you down and the pain is preventing you from living life to its fullest, it’s time to consider partial or total knee replacement.

Who Benefits from Knee Replacement?

An orthopedic surgeon may recommend knee replacement surgery if:

  • Pain prevents you from sleeping or participating in normal activities

  • You cannot move around by yourself
  • Your need to use a cane or walker
  • Your pain has not improved with other non-surgical treatments
  • You understand the surgery and recovery

Some patients are willing to wait until their knee problem becomes severe before undergoing a knee replacement, while other patients are more willing to have the surgery completed so they can return to sports and daily activities. Some younger patients may benefit from a partial knee replacement at an early age to relieve pain knowing they may need a total knee replacement in the future. Your orthopedic surgeon will help you determine the best timing to maximize your quality of life.

Can I wait to have my Knee Replacement Surgery?

In general, knee replacement surgery is elective. At the St. Elizabeth Total Joint Center, we promote and value your overall quality of life. Knee replacement surgery is typically done to provide you with pain relief. In most cases, temporarily delaying surgery will not negatively impact the knee joint.

Occasionally, extreme wear and tear on your knee joint can cause damage to other parts of your body. Pain can also prevent you from moving around well, which in turn can damage the muscles around your joints and even make your bones thinner. In this case, your doctor will recommend moving forward with the surgery.

Limiting Factors

At the St. Elizabeth Total Joint Center, your health is our first priority. There are certain factors that would cause your doctor to not recommend a knee replacement, including:

  • Elevated Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Weak quadriceps
  • Unhealthy skin around the knee joint
  • Previous knee infection
  • Heart or lung problems, which makes surgery riskier
  • Other health conditions that would impact your knee replacement surgery recovery

Total Knee Replacement

When your pain is no longer relieved with non-surgical treatments, it may be time to consider partial or total knee replacement surgery often referred to as knee resurfacing. Your orthopedic surgeon will help you decide if this treatment path is the right one for you. We offer both traditional knee replacement surgery and Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery. Your surgeon will determine which surgery option is right for you.

What is Total Knee Replacement?

Making the decision to have a total knee replacement isn’t easy, but our team of orthopedic experts at St. Elizabeth Healthcare are with you every step of the way. We want you to be knowledgeable and prepared for your knee replacement to ensure both your surgery and recovery goes as smoothly as possible. Learn about Total Knee Replacement and what to expect with more frequently asked questions below.

The knee is the largest joint in the body and a combination of three bones: your femur (thigh bone), tibia (lower leg bone) and the patella (knee cap). The knee is responsible for absorbing the force of your movement and everyday activities. The muscles around your knee also have an important job: they support and help to move your knee.

The knee can become unhealthy after years of wear and tear, through daily life, sports, trauma, or arthritis. The protective lining between the three knee bones can wear away, leaving bone spurs or causing arthritis. In addition to knee pain, you could also lose movement, strength and function of your knee. Typically, this is the point where a partial or total knee replacement may be an option for you.

During your knee replacement surgery, your orthopaedic surgeon will make an incision over the affected knee and move the patella out of the way. Damaged cartilage and bone are removed from the knee joint, which usually includes the ends of the femur and tibia bone and the patella if needed. Once this is complete, the two parts of the knee prosthesis are implanted into the femur bone and the tibia bone. These prosthetic pieces, along with the patella prosthesis, are made from metal and strong plastic. The doctor may choose to use special bone cement along with screws if necessary.

Total knee replacement surgery usually takes between one and one and a half hours, although it can take longer for more complex cases.

Yes, most patients need a walker for a short time after surgery. A walker will be provided for you to use in the hospital and if you need one for home, we will help you get one during your hospital stay.

Yes. Once you return home following your hospital discharge, you will need assistance for approximately 5-7 days.

We recommend that our patients avoid stairs for about a week. If stairs are unavoidable, please mention it to your therapist. Our Physical Therapy department will work with you to make sure you can negotiate them safely.

All of our knee replacement patients begin their physical therapy in the hospital and will continue upon discharge from the hospital. Most patients remain in therapy for four to six weeks, although it depends on how quickly you progress.

Most patients will be sitting in a chair or walking on the evening of surgery. Our Physical Therapists will work with you.

The arthritic pain you experienced before the surgery will now be gone. The pain you experience following surgery is surgical/muscle pain. While you can expect to feel this pain for several weeks after surgery, it will gradually decrease.

Your new knee will be very strong and secure following surgery. You should avoid quick, sharp movements, falls and large amounts of stress or impact on the knee joint.

The surgeon will choose from several different dressings following your surgery. Each dressing requires different home care and instructions will be given at discharge.

Contact Us

Is your knee pain bothering you?

Schedule an appointment with our Sports Medicine physicians for a treatment plan tailored to you. Call (859) 212-5600 to make an appointment.

Surgical Options

If surgery is necessary, our physicians can provide a referral to one of our affiliated orthopedic surgeons. For more information on surgical options, please contact us at