Patients

Phoenix Knee Replacement

The Knee Joint

The knee is the largest joint in the body and normal knee function is required to perform most daily activities. The knee is made up of the lower end of the thighbone (femur) and the kneecap (patella). The femur rotates on the upper end of the shin bone (tibia) and the patella slides in a groove on the end of the femur. The long thigh muscles give the knee strength and large ligaments attach to the femur and tibia to provide stability.

Normal Knee Anatomy

Phoenix Knee ReplacementNormal Knee Anatomy
Medical Illustration © 2012 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

The joint surfaces where the three bones touch at the knee are covered with articular cartilage, a smooth substance that cushions the bones and enables them to move easily.

All remaining surfaces of the knee are covered by a thin, smooth tissue liner called the synovial membrane. This membrane releases a special fluid that lubricates the joint, reducing friction to nearly zero in a healthy knee.

All of these components normally work in harmony, but disease or injury can disrupt that, which results in pain, muscle weakness and reduced function.

Knee with Arthritis

The most common cause of chronic knee pain and disability is arthritis. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and traumatic arthritis are the most common forms.

Knee Replacement PhoenixKnee with Arthritis
Medical Illustration © 2012 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
  • Osteoarthritis usually occurs in people 50 years of age and older and often in individuals with a family history of arthritis. Over time, the cartilage that cushions the bones of the knee softens and wears away and the bones rub against one another, causing knee pain and stiffness.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the synovial membrane becomes thickened and inflamed. When this happens, too much synovial fluid is produced and the joint space becomes overfilled. This chronic inflammation can damage the cartilage and eventually cause pain, stiffness and cartilage loss.
  • Traumatic arthritis can follow a serious knee injury. A knee fracture or severe tears of the knee ligaments may damage the articular cartilage over time, causing knee pain and limiting knee function.

Knee Replacement Treatment Options

Conservative treatments such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and weight loss are recommended as first line treatments. Physical therapy can treat stiff and weak joints by improving knee motion and strength. Oral medications, such as anti-inflammatories, improve pain by decreasing the inflammation in the joint associated with arthritis.

More invasive treatments include intra-articular or joint injections. Some patients may benefit from a steroid injection, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication that can relieve a patient of arthritic symptoms for two to six months, on average. Patients with mild to moderate arthritis may be candidates for Supartz injections. This is a series of five weekly injections that go directly into the knee joint. The thick substance, hyaluronic acid, is a chemical naturally found in the joint tissues and synovial fluid and improves the quality of the fluid in the knee joint to increase its lubricating effect.

If a patient doesn't get relief from the above treatment options or his or her arthritis is advanced, a joint replacement is considered. During surgery, the diseased ends of the femur and tibia are cut away and replaced by a smooth metal covering. A plastic liner is placed between the metal components to act as a shock absorber. The arthritis on the back of the patella is also removed and replaced with a small piece of plastic. All of the metal and plastic components are fixed into place with special bone cement, allowing the patient to walk on the surgical knee immediately after surgery.

Realistic Expectations About Knee Replacement Surgery

More than 90 percent of individuals who undergo total knee replacement experience a dramatic reduction of knee pain and a significant improvement in the ability to perform common, daily activities. Patients can still experience bursitis or tendonitis after surgery.

A total knee replacement will not make you a super-athlete or allow you to do more than you could before you developed arthritis. Following surgery, you will be advised to avoid some types of activity, including jogging and high-impact sports, for the rest of your life.

With normal use and activity, every knee implant develops some wear in its plastic cushion. Excessive activity or weight may accelerate this normal wear and cause the knee replacement to loosen and become painful. With appropriate activity modification, knee replacements can last for many years.

Medical Evaluation

In preparing for knee replacement surgery, you may be asked to have a complete physical examination by your primary care doctor before your surgical procedure. This is needed to assess your health and identify conditions that can interfere with your surgery or recovery.

Tests

Several tests may be needed to help plan your surgery: blood and urine samples may be tested and an electrocardiogram and chest x-rays (radiographs) may be obtained.

Medications

Tell your orthopedic surgeon about the medications you are taking. Your orthopedist or primary care doctor will advise you which medications you should stop or can continue taking before surgery.

Weight Loss

If you are overweight, your doctor may ask you to lose some weight before surgery to minimize the stress on your new knee and possibly decrease the risks associated with having surgery.

Dental Evaluation

Although infections after knee replacement are not common, an infection can occur if bacteria enters your bloodstream. Because bacteria can enter the bloodstream during dental procedures, you should consider getting treatment for significant dental diseases (including tooth extractions and periodontal work) before your knee replacement surgery. Routine cleaning of your teeth should be delayed for several weeks after surgery.

Urinary Evaluation

Individuals with a history of recent or frequent urinary infections and older men with prostate disease should consider a urological evaluation before surgery.

Social Planning

Although you will be able to walk with crutches or a walker after surgery, you will need some help for several weeks with such tasks as cooking, shopping, bathing and laundry. If you live alone, someone from your orthopedic surgeon's office, a social worker, or a discharge planner at the hospital can help you make arrangements in advance to have someone assist you at your home. A short stay in an extended-care facility during your recovery after surgery also may be arranged.

Your Knee Replacement Surgery

You will be admitted to the hospital on the day of your knee replacement sugery in Phoenix. Prior to admission, a member of the anesthesia team will evaluate you.

The surgical procedure takes a few hours. Your orthopedic surgeon will remove the damaged cartilage and bone and then position new metal, plastic or ceramic joint surfaces to restore the alignment and function of your knee. Your orthopedic surgeon will choose the type of prosthesis that best meets your needs.

After your Phoenix knee replacement surgery, you will be moved to the recovery room where you will be monitored while recovering from anesthesia. After you awaken fully, you will be taken to your hospital room.

Recovery after Knee Replacement Surgery

The success of your surgery will depend in large measure on how well you follow your orthopedic surgeon's instructions regarding care during the first few weeks after surgery.

See your orthopedic surgeon periodically for routine follow-up examinations and x-rays (radiographs), even if your knee replacement seems to be doing fine.

How Your New Knee Is Different

Knee Replacement Surgery - Phoenix ArizonaTotal Knee Replacement
Medical Illustration © 2012 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

You may feel some numbness in the skin around your incision and some stiffness in the knee itself, particularly with excessive bending activities. Improvement of knee motion is a goal of total knee replacement, but restoration of full motion is uncommon. The motion of your knee replacement after surgery is predicted by the motion of your knee prior to surgery. Most patients can expect to be able to fully straighten the replaced knee and bend the knee sufficiently to climb stairs and get in and out of a car. Kneeling is usually uncomfortable, but it is not harmful. Occasionally, you may feel some soft clicking of the metal and plastic with knee bending or walking. These side effects often diminish with time and most patients find them to be tolerable when compared with the pain and limited function they experienced prior to surgery.

At the Banner CORE Center for Orthopedics, we provide best-in-class surgical and non-surgical treatment options for those suffering from chronic knee pain. Call us today at 1.855.409.7520 to set up an appointment for Phoenix Knee Replacement Surgery, Hip Replacement & Shoulder Replacement Surgery.