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Home > Services > Orthopedics > Orthopedic Conditions > Knee Replacement

Knee Replacement

Watch Trey Cui, MD, explain why a total knee replacement 
 may be the right choice for your knee pain.

At UVA, we’re ranked among the top 50 hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. We’ve also received the highest possible performance rating for all nine common conditions and procedures reviewed, including knee replacement. 

Knee replacement, also called arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to replace a knee damaged by disease or injury.

Knee replacement surgery is most often done to:

  • Ease knee pain and disability due to arthritis or previous severe knee injury
  • Correct a knee deformity

Recovery may take several weeks to months depending on your overall health.

Do You Need a Knee Replacement?

Listen to a podcast: Learn about your knee treatment options.

Description of the Procedure    

Your doctor will make a cut in your skin and remove the damaged cartilage and bone will be removed. Your doctor will then place position the artificial joint and cement it within the bone. A drain will be left in to allow extra fluid to flow out.

The procedure takes about two hours. You can expect to stay in the hospital 3-4 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.

Post-procedure Care   

At the Hospital

While you recover at the hospital, you may need to use a continuous passive motion machine, which is designed to:

  • Slowly move your knee
  • Restore function
  • Decrease swelling
  • Improve circulation

During your recovery, you will need to:

  • Move your foot and ankle to increase blood flow back to your heart
  • Wear support stockings to help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs
  • Work with a physical therapist to learn safe ways to move your knee and support your weight
  • Use a walker, crutches or other support devices

At Home

To help ensure a smooth recovery at home, take these steps:

  • Work with a physical therapist to focus on balance, range-of-motion and strength training
  • Maintain a healthy weight after surgery

You should be able to go back to light activities and driving within six weeks. You may feel a soft clicking in the joint when walking or bending. Water-based exercises may help to improve joint pain, swelling around the knee and range of motion.

You may need antibiotics before certain dental procedures or surgeries to prevent possible infections from entering the bloodstream. Make sure to let the dentist or doctor know that you have an artificial joint.

Possible Complications  

Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Infection
  • Excess bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Blood clots
  • Chronic weakness in knee joint
  • Worsening or unchanged pain

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Smoking
  • Poor nutrition
  • History of blood clots
  • Long-term illness
  • Use of certain medications


Call us at 434.243.3675.

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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