A knee replacement surgery, also known as knee arthroplasty, may be needed for severe knee pain due to age-related osteoarthritis, traumatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or a severe fracture. Not only do these conditions cause pain, but also cause difficulties with mobility and everyday movements. As this pain can affect the quality of life, a total knee replacement may be the most suitable and long-term option to enhance the mobility of your knee and relieve current and future pain.

How is a total knee replacement done?

A total knee replacement involves replacing the damaged parts of cartilage and bone with prosthetic components made from metal, ceramic, and plastic. Under general anaesthesia, Dr Nhlapo will make an incision into the front of the knee. After rotating the kneecap out of position, your orthopaedic surgeon can get full access to the structures beneath it. Once the damaged bone and cartilage is removed, the thighbone and shinbone are prepped for the prosthetic components by hollowing out the bone to fit the component. These components are then cemented into the bone, which over time, will fuse to the bone. Finally, the kneecap is swivelled back into position and replaced with a prosthetic kneecap. This component is fixed into place, and Dr Nhlapo will make sure that the joint is stable and flexing correctly before closing the incision.


What can I expect in terms of recovery?

Your orthopaedic surgeon will discuss the outcome of surgery as well as the recovery process in detail with you once you wake up from anaesthesia. Swelling, pain and stiffness in the leg and knee after a knee replacement is to be expected. You will be expected to get up and walking with the help of crutches the day after surgery. With the help of a physiotherapist, you will need to do exercises to strengthen and enhance the mobility of the knee joint. While hip knee arthroplasty is done to improve mobility, you will need to make some lifestyle changes after surgery. While high impact activities such as running, jogging and jumping will be advised against after such an operation, your mobility will be improved. You should be able to return to normal activities in 4 - 6 weeks of surgery.