Arthritis and certain knee injuries and diseases can damage the cartilage that normally cushions the knee joint, leading to pain and stiffness. A knee replacement may be recommended when more conservative treatments - such as anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone injections - fail to relieve pain or improve movement.
During a total knee replacement, the entire joint is replaced with an artificial prosthesis. The surgery itself lasts between one-and-a-half and three hours. After the procedure, patients usually experience immediate relief from joint pain. Knee replacements today last about 20 years in 85-90% of patients.
Partial knee replacement may be possible for patients with damage to one part of the joint. In a partial knee replacement, only the diseased parts of the knee are removed and replaced; the healthy portions are left untouched. Successful partial knee replacements can delay or eliminate the need for a total knee replacement. They also allow a greater range of movement than standard (non-high-flex) total knee replacements.