Total Knee Replacement

What is a total knee replacement?

A total knee replacement involves an orthopaedic surgeon resurfacing the entire arthritic knee. Plastic and metal parts will be used to cap the ends of the bones, which form the kneecap and joint. The knee joint consists of three compartments which may be affected by arthritis to a certain degree. The three compartments of the knee joint include the following:

  • The lateral compartment is the compartment located between the thigh bone and the tibia (lower leg) on the outside.
  • The patellofemoral compartment is the compartment located between the patella(kneecap) and the femoral trochlea(the lower end of the thigh bone).
  • The medial compartment is a compartment located between the thigh bone and the lower leg on the inside.

Knee replacement surgery is a surgical treatment for pain and disability of the knee. The most prevalent reason for a total knee replacement is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a condition that is characterised by the breakdown of the joint cartilage. Any damage to the cartilage and bones may limit movement and cause pain. People suffering from the degenerative joint disease may not be able to engage in normal activities which may involve bending at the knee, like climbing stairs or walking, because it may be painful. The knee joint may swell or give away due to the joint not being stable.

How does Dr van Niekerk perform the procedure?

During the procedure, Dr van Niekerk will make an incision on the knee. The orthopaedic surgeon will remove the damaged surfaces and resurface the knee joint with the use of a prosthesis. The prosthesis will be made up of either metal or plastic. The prosthesis consists of the tibial, femoral and patellar components. After the procedure, the incision will be closed with surgical staples or stitches.

What is recovery like?

After the procedure, a physical therapist will be recommended to help plan an exercise program for you. Recovery instructions will be given to you, which may include keeping the surgical area clean and dry. The stitches or staples will be taken out during a follow-up appointment.


What are the risks of the surgical procedure?

Some possible complications may include the following:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Loosening or wearing out of the prosthesis
  • Blood clots in the legs or lungs
  • Fracture
  • Continued pain or stiffness
What is the cause of chronic knee pain?

Chronic knee pain is commonly caused by arthritis. There are three types of arthritis, namely rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and posttraumatic arthritis.

What does an orthopaedic evaluation entail?

An orthopaedic evaluation includes a medical history, physical examination, x-rays, and other tests like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.