During a knee arthroplasty, or knee replacement surgery, the surgeon cuts away damaged cartilage and bone from the knee and leg, according to the Mayo Clinic. The surgeon then replaces it with an artificial joint. Modern artificial joints attempt to mimic the natural movement of the knee.
The surgery lasts approximately one to two hours, according to Medical News Today. On the day of surgery, the surgeon and anesthesiologist determine whether to use general anesthesia or an epidural. The patient typically remains in the hospital for five to 10 days. While it can take up to three months to recover completely, many patients are able to resume normal activity after six weeks. With proper care and avoidance of excess strain, artificial joints last up to 15 to 20 years in most cases.
Doctors typically recommend a knee arthroplasty when the damage or wear to the patient's knee cartilage causes severe pain and limits mobility, explains Medical News Today. This arthritic damage may be the result of age-related degeneration, chronic inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis or a severe knee injury. Without adequate cartilage, the bones rub and crush together rather than gliding smoothly. The artificial joint allows the knee to move and glide without friction. This relieves the pain tremendously and allows the patient to regain normal mobility.