Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Submitted by Nic on November 19, 2012

Performing simple, everyday activities can be quite difficult for those who have a damaged knee. Injuries or medical conditions like arthritis can affect your knee quite badly, thereby limiting your range of motion.

Basic tasks like walking, driving and climbing stairs can become a challenge. To make matters worse, knee damage may also cause you to experience severe pain. Fortunately, patients suffering from knee problems can get some relief by going through the total knee replacement surgery.

What is a Total Knee Replacement Surgery?

A total knee replacement surgery, also known as total knee anthroplasty, is a medical procedure, in which your doctor will replace all the three components and the ligaments of a diseased or damaged knee-joint, with an artificial joint or prostheses. These artificial joints use metal alloy and polyethylene implants, which allow your bones to slide against each other smoothly. This improves mobility and reduces the pain you normally experience.

While anyone can go in for a total knee replacement surgery, this procedure is a lot more common in elderly people, mainly those suffering from arthritis.


Your doctor will perform the total knee replacement surgery procedure in an operation theater, after giving you general anesthesia. The doctor will cover your thighbone or femur with metal, before placing plastic on your shinbone (tibia). In the total knee replacement surgery the undersurface of your kneecap will also be replaced with a plastic surface. The entire surgery generally takes about 2 to 3 hours. However, recovery from total knee replacement surgery is bound to take much longer.

How long does it take to recover from total knee replacement?

There are several factors that influence your recovery from total knee replacement surgery, like your age, medical history, level of fitness and the severity of the problem. However, on average, patients resume most of their normal, day-to-day activities within 8 to 12 weeks after the surgery.

Once the surgery is complete, your doctor will keep you under observation for around 3 days. The very next day, you will probably be asked to stand up and move around, using the parallel bar, or any other walking device. Unfortunately, most patients experience severe pain after total knee replacement surgery. The pain could last anywhere between 48 and 72 hours. Your doctor can give you medication to minimize it.

If there is considerable progress in around three to four days, you may be allowed to go home. It would be best that you have someone to drive you back home as it would be unsafe to drive or travel alone. For the next two weeks or so, you'll need to use a cane or a walker in order to move about. However, once your knees feel strong enough to bear the weight of your body, you can get rid of the walking devices. While you can engage in light household chores or perhaps even a bit of shopping and walking, you need to make sure that you do not exert the body after surgery. You may still experience pain during this time, which can be relieved using painkillers.

Physical therapy is a very important part of the recovery process. Your doctor will suggest a specialist who will show you various knee exercises to help you recover. Around three to four weeks after the surgery, you should also check with your physician if you can start walking (for exercise) and swimming. During this time, you should notice an improvement in your motion and a reduction in pain.

Cost of a Total Knee Replacement Surgery

The cost of total knee replacement surgery may vary, as it depends on many different factors. You could pay anywhere between US$ 25,000 and US$ 60,000 for the entire procedure, which includes charges for the operation, consultation, certain tests, medicines and medical supplies, also the hospital (room). In most cases, the cost of the total knee replacement surgery is covered by insurance companies. However, it is best that you call your insurance company and check if the total knee replacement surgery is covered by your insurance plan.


  • David Shakespeare, Vera Kinzel, Rehabilitation after total knee replacement: Time to go home?, The Knee, Volume 12, Issue 3, June 2005, Pages 185-189, ISSN 0968-0160, 10.1016/j.knee.2004.06.007.
  • Seamus O'Brien, An outcome study on average length of stay following total hip and knee replacement, Journal of Orthopaedic Nursing, Volume 6, Issue 3, August 2002, Pages 161-169, ISSN 1361-3111, 10.1016/S1361-3111(02)00055-9.
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