Knee Replacement

A knee replacement is an operation to replace damaged parts of the knee joint. It can be either a total knee replacement (TKR) or a partial (unicompartmental) knee replacement. The new part is called a prosthesis.

Surgery to replace a worn-out knee joint is very common. It is increasingly popular, as the outcomes have become better and better over the last decade or so. John Cleese says he's "practically bionic now" having had his knee replaced, as well as both of his hips.

Why is it done?

The usual reason that someone has a knee replacement is because they have very painful arthritis in their knee.

How do I know if I need one?

You should always bear in mind that a knee replacement is a major operation and you should really only be considering it when you have run out of other options. A doctor can tell you that you have arthritis in your knee and they can tell you that you could have a knee replacement but only you can decide if the time is right for you. Most people who decide to have a knee replacement are already taking painkillers every day but are still not able to walk far and need to use a stick.

Looking at all of the research on knee replacements (and it's good to know that there is lots), it would seem that the people who do best after a knee replacement are the ones with severe arthritis but not so bad that the joint is completely destroyed. This could be because it's really important to have strong muscles around the knee in order to make the best recovery and people who have the most advanced disease tend to have very weak leg muscles.

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Author:
Dr Jacqueline Payne
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Helen Huins
Document ID:
29427 (v1)
Last Checked:
04 July 2017
Next Review:
03 July 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.