January 2014

Who Needs a Knee Replacement?

If you or someone you know is considering knee replacement, a new resource can help you understand how it works, how to prepare for surgery, and what to expect in recovery.

Knee replacement involves removing parts of your natural knee joint and replacing them with artificial parts. Knee replacement is the most common type of joint replacement surgery.

Several forms of arthritis can damage knees and cause so much pain and disability that knees need to be replaced. Certain knee deformities—such as bowed legs or knock knees—can wear down cartilage and create difficulties. Knee damage can also result from a problem called avascular necrosis, or osteonecrosis, in which the bones lose their blood supply, die, and eventually collapse.

If other treatments haven’t helped, your doctor may suggest knee replacement when pain and stiffness begin to interfere with your everyday activities.

If you’d like to consider knee replacement, ask your doctor to refer you to an orthopedic surgeon, a doctor specially trained to treat problems of the bones and joints.

For more information, visit the NIHSeniorHealth Knee Replacement page.