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Knee Replacement


What do I need to know about knee replacement?

Knee replacement is surgery to replace all or part of your knee joint. It is also called knee arthroplasty.

How do I prepare for knee replacement?

  • Weeks before your surgery:
    • Some medicines will need to be stopped weeks before surgery. These medicines include blood thinning medicine, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. It also includes some antirheumatic medicines. Make sure your healthcare provider knows all medicines you are taking. Also ask how long before surgery to stop taking them.
    • Your healthcare provider may have you do exercises to strengthen your leg muscles before surgery.
    • You may need x-rays to help your healthcare provider plan your surgery. Ask about any other tests you may need.
  • The night before and the day of surgery:
    • Your healthcare provider may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery.
    • You will be told what medicines you can or cannot take the morning of surgery.

What will happen during knee replacement?

  • You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may instead be given a spinal or epidural anesthesia. This type of anesthesia keeps you numb from the waist down, but you will be awake during surgery. Your surgeon will make an incision over your knee joint. He or she will remove the damaged parts of your knee joint and replace them with a knee implant. The knee implant may be made of metal and plastic. Your surgeon may secure it with medical cement.
  • Your surgeon will move the muscles and other tissues around your joint back into place. He or she will close your incision with stitches or staples. He or she may use strips of medical tape and a bandage to cover your wound.

What will happen after knee replacement?

You will be in the hospital 1 to 4 days. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. The physical therapist will help you walk the first day after surgery. When you walk the day after surgery, it helps decrease pain and improves the function of your knee. You may use crutches or a walker. You will need physical therapy to teach you exercises to help strengthen your knee and prevent stiffness. You may also need occupational therapy to teach you the best ways to bathe and dress.

What are the risks of knee replacement?

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Nerves or blood vessels may be damaged during surgery. After surgery, your knee may be stiff or numb. You may continue to have knee pain. You may get a blood clot in your leg. This may become life-threatening. Your implant may get loose or move out of place. The implant may get worn out over time and need to be replaced.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.