If you suffer from severe arthritis of the knee that remains painful despite treatment with medicines, exercise, rest and supports to assist your mobility, you may benefit from a knee replacement.
The main reason that people with arthritis have knee replacements is unrelieved pain — if you are adequately mobile and your pain is manageable, you probably do not need a knee replacement.
Your suitability for knee replacement surgery will be assessed based on your medical history, physical examination, X-ray and other imaging results.
The most common reason that people have a knee replacement is arthritis of the knees that causes ongoing pain and reduced mobility.
The main types of arthritis include:
Osteoarthritis (OA) – the most common form of arthritis – results from the breakdown of cartilage (a smooth, cushioning substance) on the end of bones where they meet to form a joint, making the normally smooth surface rough or uneven. OA of the knee affects the whole joint (including the cartilage, bone, ligaments and muscles) and may lead to stiffness and pain around the knee joint, unsteadiness, muscle weakness and pain when walking or standing.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease that causes joint inflammation. In affected joints, the synovial membrane (thin, smooth tissue in the knee) becomes inflamed and overproduces synovial fluid which then increases the pressure within the joint, which may lead to cartilage damage. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis of the knee include joint pain, swelling and stiffness.
Post-traumatic arthritis of the knee can develop following a severe injury to the knee. Knee fractures, torn ligaments or meniscal tears can lead to cartilage damage.
For some people affected by arthritis of the knee, knee replacement surgery (also known as a knee arthroplasty) may offer an improvement in their quality of life through reduced pain and increased mobility.
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