What is total knee replacement?

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, knee replacement procedures generally result in significant restoration of function and reduction of pain.1

Knee replacement surgery may be considered when arthritis limits your everyday activities, such as walking and bending, when pain continues while resting, or when stiffness in your knee limits your ability to move or lift your leg. Knee replacement may be recommended only after careful diagnosis of your joint problem. It is time to consider surgery if you have little pain relief from anti-inflammatory drugs, or other treatments, such as physical therapy, do not relieve knee pain.

Knee replacement is a surgical procedure—performed in the US since the 1960s—in which a diseased or damaged joint is replaced with an artificial joint called a prosthesis. Made of metal alloys and high-grade plastics (to mimic the function of bone and cartilage, respectively), the prosthesis is designed to move much like a healthy human joint. Over the years, knee replacement techniques and instrumentation have undergone countless enhancements.


  1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Total knee replacement. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00389. Accessed April 4, 2012.

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