What is a knee replacement?

Knee replacement surgery, known as knee arthroplasty for orthopaedic surgeons, is usually advised by Dr Heymans for those with pain and mobility difficulties due to arthritis, sports injury, dislocation or a fracture. A knee replacement involves the damaged cartilage and bone being removed and replaced with prosthetic components made from metal, ceramic, and plastic.

What does treatment involve?

When non-surgical methods fail, a total knee replacement may be the best option. Under general anaesthesia, Dr Heymans will make a large incision across the front of the kneecap. After rotating the kneecap out of place, he can gain access to the structures beneath it. The damaged parts of bone and cartilage are then removed from the knee joint, and the thighbone is prepped for the prosthesis by hollowing out the centre of the bone. The prosthesis can now fit snugly into the thighbone and is cemented in place. Dr Heymans will then prepare the shinbone for the prosthesis the same way, and the component is cemented in place. Finally, the kneecap is removed and replaced with a prosthetic patellar component. It is readjusted and secured into place. Before closing the incision, your orthopaedic surgeon will flex the knee to ensure it is working properly.

What can I expect in terms of recovery?

Recovery will depend on the cause and severity of damage to the knee joint. After a total knee replacement, pain, swelling and inflammation can be expected. Within a day of surgery, Dr Heymans will ask you get up and walk with crutches. This is done to ensure mobility of the joint, aid recovery and prevent excessive swelling. You will have to do exercises with the help of a physiotherapist to strengthen, coordinate and get the full range of motion of the knee. You should be able to feel an improvement within a month of surgery and should be able to return to normal within 4-6 weeks of surgery. Lifestyle changes may need to be made as you will no longer be able to do heavy lifting, climbing or high-impact sports after a total knee replacement.