Stephen Southerland, MD
Orthopedic Surgery, Rebound Orthopedics
Learn more about PeaceHealth Southwest's Joint Journey program at www.swjointjourney.org
Arthritis of the knee is a common and painful problem for many Americans. As the population ages, and with increasingly active lifestyles becoming more common, the search for a long lasting treatment continues. For those patients that arthritis medications and therapy are not effective, total knee replacement has become an excellent option. More than 30,000 people undergo the procedure each year.
Osteoarthritis can be caused by previous injuries, obesity or may simply run in your family. Symptoms generally involve pain with walking, difficulty on stairs and often pain at night. Stiffness and swelling are also common.
Treatment begins with an examination by an orthopedic surgeon and X-rays of the knee. After careful planning, the operation involves removing the worn out surfaces of the knee and resurfacing them with metal and plastic implants. This is done using specially designed instruments, which allow proper positioning of the new knee components.
After surgery, patients remain in the hospital for two to three days and are allowed to walk immediately. A special physical therapy program encourages early range of motion of the knee, and quickly restores the strength needed to walk independently. With modern techniques and component systems, up to 95% of knee replacements are expected to last 15 years or longer.
Research into improving total knee replacement continues. Partial knee replacements, computer-assisted surgery, the use of more durable materials, and minimally invasive techniques are all areas of interest which are being actively researched. With these advances, we can expect shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery rates in the future.
Published March 2008.