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Your knee is a joint where 3 bones meet:
- Upper leg bone (femur)
- Lower leg bone (tibia)
- Kneecap (patella)
Injury or wear can cause damage to the bones, cartilage, muscles, tendons and other tissues that are part of the joint. Some of the most serious and painful damage happens when the cartilage is worn down. This means the bones rub together. This damage causes pain upon moving the joint.
The patient will sometimes avoid movement, causing more muscle weakness and damage. In severe cases, the only possible treatment is replacement of the joint. This is also called knee arthroplasty.
What to Expect
Before surgery, you will have tests done. These tests include:
The surgeon will replace the worn ends of the bones that form the joint. The knee replacement may be:
- Partial: the surgeon only replaces one or two portions of the joints
- Total: the surgeon replaces the whole joint
The new parts are shaped exactly like your natural bone. They are anchored to the remaining bone, often with a plastic or cement substance. The surgeon may also replace the damaged cartilage with plastic.
You will begin using the new joint the same day or day after surgery. Your hospital stay will be several days. The sooner you begin moving the affected area, the better recovery goes. Your doctor at Vanderbilt Orthopaedics will decide the best post-operative rehabilitation and exercise program. Depending on the joint replaced, you may spend some time in a rehabilitation facility for physical therapy.