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What is knee replacement surgery?

Knee replacement is where portions of the bones that form the knee joint are removed and replaced with artificial implants. It is performed primarily to relieve knee pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis.

Most people who get this surgery have advanced knee arthritis, in which the knee cartilage is worn away and the surface of the knee becomes pitted, eroded, and uneven. This causes pain, stiffness, instability and a change in body alignment. Knee replacement surgery can also help some people who have a weakened knee joint caused by an injury or other condition.

What are the different types of knee replacement surgery?

There are two main types:

  • Total knee replacement, where the entire joint is replaced with artificial surfaces
  • Partial knee replacement, where only one damaged compartment of the knee is replaced

Total knee replacement is the more common of these two procedures.

Can I avoid or postpone a knee replacement?

The choice on whether to have surgery to address arthritis of the knee joint depends on multiple factors, including:

  • the condition of the knee joint
  • the patient’s age and activity level

In cases where the damage from arthritis is minimal, and/or if the patient does not have a very active lifestyle, nonsurgical treatments by being tried, including:

  • physical therapy
  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen
  • weight loss to reduce pressure on the knee