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Knee Replacement FAQs

What causes knee problems and pain?

There are many different types of issues that can cause knee problems and pain:

  • Sprained/strained ligaments or muscles - this can happen if there is a blow to the knee or it has been twisted suddenly. If you have pain, swelling or difficulty when walking, this could be a sprain.
  • Torn cartilage - this can often happen with sprains, where the connective tissue can be torn. You may need to wear a brace when participating in an activity to prevent further injury. In some cases, surgery may be needed to repair it. 
  • Tendonitis - this can occur when a tendon is overused and becomes inflamed. This is often caused by sports, where the athlete is forced to hit the ground.
  • Osteoarthritis - this is one of the most common forms of arthritis. The gradual wearing away of the cartilage causes pain and loss of mobility. 

What knee investigations are necessary?

When determining the cause of knee pain there are various ways this can be identified. Blood tests can distinguish between different types of arthritis, but are also used as a pre-operation assessment. X-rays, CT scans and MRIs are also common methods of identifying issues with the knee. The type of investigation needed depends on the severity of your situation.

What are the knee treatment options?

  • Medication - your GP may prescribe you some medication to aid in pain relief and treat the symptoms.
  • Exercise - you may be referred to a specialist or given some at-home exercises to help combat the symptoms and strengthen the knee. Depending on the type of issue that is causing the pain, there are different exercises to partake in.
  • Injections - this is where the joint is injected with medication to relieve the symptoms you are experiencing. This is a more non-invasive procedure you can have done.
  • Surgery - in more severe cases, surgery may be required to replace parts of or the whole knee joint. The surgery you need will depend on how much pain you are in and what has happened to the knee to cause the symptoms. 

When is knee surgery needed?

Knee surgery may be required when the pain in your knee becomes too severe, the swelling and stiffness are too great or you lose the ability to move the joint altogether. If the pain in your knee is still there when resting, it could be a sign of a more severe issue. Always discuss your symptoms with a professional, who will be able to direct you to the correct course of action.

What types of knee surgery are there?

  • Partial knee replacement - if osteoarthritis causes damage to the knee, partial knee replacement surgery may be the solution. During this surgery, one side of the lower thighbone is removed and replaced. The corresponding top shinbone is also replaced. This surgery may require a follow-up total knee replacement in the future.
  • Total knee replacement - for this surgery, the knee bone is completely removed and replaced with an artificial implant. The implant will have been designed with your exact measurements to make the transition to the artificial knee as comfortable as possible.

Is hip and knee surgery major surgery?

Yes, hip and knee replacement surgery is considered major surgery. You may be recommended other treatments to begin with, such as injections or physiotherapy to try and ease your symptoms. In more severe cases, surgery may be recommended if the damage is too great.

How long will the new knee last?

With a total knee replacement, the artificial knee should last around 15-20 years. There are some common side-effects to knee replacement surgery due to the scarring, such as difficulty bending your knee or kneeling. Always speak to a professional if you experience side-effects for a long period of time.

Can I drive after knee replacement surgery?

You can start driving again after 4-6 weeks after surgery, but some people need recovery for up to 8 weeks before attempting to drive. You must ensure you are covered by your insurance and have the go-ahead from your doctor.

Can I fly after knee replacement surgery?

If you want to holiday, we recommend 4 weeks rest before going on a UK holiday. For a short-haul flight, we recommend up to 3 months rest, and for long-haul flights, we recommend after 3 months rest.

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