Knee Replacement Surgery

Everyone experiences knee pain from time to time. But if the pain is severe, impacting your daily life, or accompanied by swelling, tenderness or redness, it’s time to see a doctor.

At Complete Orthopedics, our team of orthopedic knee doctors specialize in knee pain treatment and surgery. We can discuss your symptoms, diagnose the problem, and provide you with the best course of action for knee treatment or surgical repair.

Based in New York City and Long Island with operating privileges in six hospitals, we’re fully equipped to provide state-of-the-art knee surgery and orthopedic services. If you’d like to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, you can book online or give us a call today.

Here’s a look at some of the common causes and treatments for knee pain and when surgical repair is the best option.

Overview

Knee pain appears in many forms, ranging from swelling and stiffness to popping and crunching noises. Sometimes the pain feels like weakness or instability. In certain cases, there is redness, and the knee is warm to the touch.

Many different problems can cause knee pain. The most debilitating cause involves underlying medical conditions, such as osteoarthritis, which can lead to disability if left untreated.

Knee Pain Symptoms

X-ray showing knee anatomy.

X-ray showing knee anatomy.

Knee pain can cause many different sensations, depending on what’s triggering the symptom.
Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of knee pain:

  • Constant ache
  • Sharp, shooting pain
  • Dull burning pain
  • Stiffness and swelling of the knee
  • Warm to the touch
  • Redness
  • Instability or weakness
  • Crunching or popping noises
  • Unable to straighten your knee
  • Unable to bend the knee

When to call Complete Orthopedics

Call your orthopedic knee doctor if you are experiencing:

  • Major pain after an injury
  • Severe pain in the knee
  • Marked knee swelling
  • Pain builds over hours and is associated with swelling, tenderness or redness
  • Inability to bear weight on your knee
  • Fever, along with redness, pain and swelling in the knee
  • Deformity in your knee or leg

Causes of Knee Pain

There are many different causes for knee pain, ranging from sports injuries and arthritis to excess weight.

Knee Pain Caused by Sports Injuries and Accidents

Accidents happen in sports and in everyday life. Here’s a list of the most common knee injuries that can occur from sports injuries and other accidents.

ACL Injury
ACL stands for the anterior cruciate ligament, one of four major ligaments in the knee joint. Located in the middle of the knee, the ACL is responsible for stabilizing the knee and preventing the sliding of the tibia under the femur.

An ACL injury is one of the most common sports injuries in athletes who play sports that involve sudden changes in direction. Soccer players and basketball players often need knee surgery due to an ACL injury.

Fracture
It’s possible to break the bones of the knee (including the kneecap) in an injury, such as a car crash, a fall, or a sports injury. It’s also possible to break knee bones as a result of osteoporosis.

Knee Bursitis
Sometimes knee pain is caused by inflammation in the bursae, fluid-like sacs in the knee that help the tendons and ligaments glide smoothly over the joint. A wide variety of injuries can cause this type of inflammation in the knee.

Patellar Tendinitis
Patellar tendinitis is irritation and inflammation in the patellar tendon that connects the shinbone to the quadriceps muscle on the front of the thigh. This type of knee injury is common in cyclists, runners, and skiers. We also see patellar tendinitis occur in athletes involved in jumping sports.

Torn Meniscus
It’s possible to tear your meniscus if you suddenly twist your knee. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that helps to absorb shock inside the joint.

Knee Pain from Mechanical Issues

Sometimes simply moving the wrong way can cause an injury to the knee. Here are some of the mechanical issues associated with knee pain:

Dislocated Kneecap
It’s very painful to dislocate a kneecap. This happens when the patella, a triangular bone that covers the front of your knee, comes out of place. Most often, the bone slides to the outside of your knee. It’s common to see a dislocated kneecap.

Foot or Hip Pain
In some cases, you can experience knee pain due to foot or hip pain that makes you walk differently to avoid pain in those areas. Unfortunately, this change in the way you walk might add more stress to your knee and cause pain.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Iliotibial band syndrome happens to distance runners and cyclists. It happens when the iliotibial band, the band of tissue from the outside of your knee to the outside of your hip, tightens and rubs against the outside of your femur.

Loose Body
In some cases, a piece of cartilage or bone can break off and float into the knee joint where it causes pain.

Arthritis-related Knee Pain

A lot of time, knee pain is caused by arthritis. There are different types of arthritis that can cause knee pain. Here are the most common:

Gout
Gout is a type of arthritis that can cause pain in the knees. It is the result of high levels of uric acid that forms sharp crystals. These crystals can cause pain along with swelling and tenderness.

Osteoarthritis
Another type of arthritis that affects the knee is osteoarthritis. While initial symptoms might be mild, eventually osteoarthritis can cause severe knee pain that requires knee surgery.

Pseudogout
The joint that is most commonly affected by pseudogout is the knee. This type of arthritis causes sudden, painful swelling in the knee.

Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis affects your joints, including the knee joint. It causes pain, stiffness, and swelling that can have a negative impact on your daily life. Knee surgery might be an option for people who want to reduce joint pain and improve their daily life.

Septic arthritis
The knees are one of the most commonly affected joints in septic arthritis. This type of arthritis is an infection in the joint that causes a lot of pain. It has the ability to cause damage to the cartilage and bone inside of the joint, which makes prompt diagnoses and knee pain treatment very important.

Additional Problems with Knee Pain

In addition to injuries, mechanical problems, and arthritis-related knee pain, there are other reasons you might be experiencing pain in your knees.
Factors such as excess weight, lack of muscle strength, and previous injuries can all increase your risk of having knee issues and pain.

Diagnosis

If you are experiencing knee pain, it’s important to listen to your body and have a healthcare provider check your symptoms.
At Complete Orthropedics, our orthopedic knee doctors provide consultation and diagnoses of common issues that cause knee pain. In most cases, we’re able to diagnose your case in the office during your first visit.

The Process
We conduct a formal history and physical examination. During the exam, we have a thorough discussion with you about your knee pain, its duration, characteristics and exacerbating or alleviating factors. We also check your knee for visible symptoms, check how far you can move your leg, and push or pull on the joints to see the integrity of the knee.

Next, we conduct any related tests that apply to your situation, including x-rays. If we’re still unable to diagnose your problem, we can then order additional tests such as a CT or MRI scans.

Treatment and Surgery

Your knee pain treatment will depend on your diagnosis. There are many non-surgical treatments for knee pain, including physical therapy, injections, as well as home remedies and alternative medicine options.

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However, in some cases, you may require a knee operation to treat your knee pain. If you require knee surgery, we can help you decide whether you need to have the surgery right away or at a time that best meets your needs.
Some of the most common surgeries associated with knee pain repair include:

  1. ACL surgery
  2. Arthroscopic surgery
  3. Partial knee replacement surgery
  4. Total knee replacement surgery

1. ACL Surgery

We offer ACL surgery for people who have experienced an ACL injury. In many cases, knee surgery on young patients with high activity levels that help them to return to their normal life or preinjury activity level and lifestyle.

2. Arthroscopic Surgery

We provide arthroscopic surgery for knee pain. Depending on your diagnosis, we might repair your knee using a fiber-optic camera and long, narrow tools. Using this method, we can reconstruct torn ligaments, remove loose bodies, and remove or repair damaged cartilage.

3. Partial Knee Replacement Surgery

In some cases, you might require a partial knee replacement surgery. In this type of surgery, we replace only the damaged part of your knee and replace it with new parts made of metal and plastic. This relatively minor surgery is done through small incisions and has a faster recovery time than a total knee replacement.

4. Total Knee Replacement Surgery

If you require a total knee replacement, rest assured you’re in good hands with the surgeons at Complete Orthopedics. This is our most common procedure. In this knee operation, we replace the damaged parts of the knee joint with metal and plastic parts.

Femoral Component (Posterior Stabilized)

Femoral Component (Posterior Stabilized)

Tibial Component

Tibial Component

The metal parts are made of cobalt chromium alloy. The femoral component replaces the lower end of the femur and requires making special cuts on the bone for the prosthetic implant to fit snugly. The above image shows a posterior stabilized femoral component which requires sacrifice of the posterior cruciate ligament. The ligament function is reproduced by the polyethylene insert  which fits in the tibial component in the image above. Together the parts reduplicate the function of the normal knee.

Modular posterior stabilized femoral component

Femur stem for modular femoral component

The modular components are used in revision knee replacement and complex knee replacement surgery. The components allow the surgeon to make intraoperative changes to achieve greater stability according to the patient’s anatomy and bone loss. The stem attaches to the upper part of the modular femoral component. While the femoral component is cemented to the lower part of the thigh bone, the stem is not cemented.

Modular tibial component with bone augments

Tibial stem for modular tibial component

The above images show modular tibial component along with bone augments. The bone augments are used to fill in the bone gaps encountered during surgery. The stem helps to stabilize the tibial component in the shin bone.

Recovery

Your recovery plan will depend on the type of surgery that you receive.
Our website is rich with surgery recovery guides based on the type of surgery.
Total knee replacement recovery guide
Recovery time for Tibial Osteotomy
We also have several FAQs pages on knee surgeries and treatments.

Complete Orthopedics Knee Surgery and Recovery

Whether it’s the result of a sports injury or a medical condition, knee pain is your body’s way of telling you something’s wrong. While minor pains can be treated with self-care measures, it’s important to know why you’re experiencing the pain in the first place to prevent long-term damage.

At Complete Orthopedics, we take knee surgery and recovery very seriously. Along with professional surgery and knee treatment, we provide you with the knowledge and self-care tips you’ll need to go through a successful recovery process.
Give us a call today or schedule an appointment online.

Do you have more questions? 

How soon after knee replacement surgery can complications typically arise?

Complications after knee replacement surgery can arise at various times during the postoperative period, ranging from the immediate postoperative period to months or even years after surgery. It’s essential to remain vigilant for signs and symptoms of complications and seek prompt medical attention if any concerns arise.

Are there any specific precautions or considerations for patients with certain medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, heart disease) undergoing knee replacement surgery?

Patients with medical conditions may require additional preoperative evaluation and optimization to reduce the risk of complications during and after knee replacement surgery. Close coordination between the orthopedic surgeon and other medical specialists is essential to ensure safe and successful outcomes.

What factors should patients consider when selecting a surgeon and hospital for knee replacement surgery?

Patients should consider factors such as surgeon experience, hospital reputation, surgical volume, complication rates, patient satisfaction scores, and access to comprehensive pre- and post-operative care when choosing where to undergo knee replacement surgery.

How does prehabilitation (pre-operative rehabilitation) contribute to better outcomes following knee replacement surgery, and what exercises are typically included in prehabilitation programs?

Prehabilitation aims to optimize patients’ physical and mental health before surgery, leading to improved post-operative recovery and functional outcomes. Exercises often include strengthening, flexibility, and cardiovascular conditioning tailored to individual needs.

What are the potential risks and benefits of simultaneous bilateral knee replacement surgery compared to staged procedures?

Simultaneous bilateral knee replacement offers the advantage of a single anesthesia exposure and shorter overall recovery time but may carry increased risks such as higher blood loss and complications related to immobility.

Are there any emerging technologies or advancements in knee replacement surgery that patients should be aware of?

Emerging technologies such as patient-specific implants, 3D printing, and advanced surgical navigation systems are being explored to further improve the precision and outcomes of knee replacement surgery.

What are the potential risks and complications associated with knee replacement surgery?

Knee replacement surgery, like any surgical procedure, carries risks such as infection, blood clots, nerve damage, implant failure, stiffness, and persistent pain.

How long does it typically take to recover from knee replacement surgery, and what is the rehabilitation process like?

Recovery time can vary, but most patients undergo several weeks of physical therapy to regain strength, mobility, and function in the replaced knee.

Are there any restrictions or limitations on activities following knee replacement surgery?

While patients can typically resume low-impact activities like walking and swimming, high-impact activities such as running and jumping may be discouraged to prevent implant wear and tear.

What factors determine the success rate of knee replacement surgery, and how can patients optimize their outcomes?

Success rates depend on factors such as patient age, overall health, severity of knee damage, surgical technique, implant selection, and adherence to post-operative rehabilitation protocols.

Are there alternatives to traditional knee replacement surgery, such as partial knee replacement or minimally invasive procedures?

Yes, alternatives include partial knee replacement for localized knee arthritis and minimally invasive techniques that aim to preserve more healthy tissue and facilitate quicker recovery.

What is the role of robotic-assisted surgery in knee replacement procedures, and how does it differ from traditional approaches?

Robotic-assisted surgery utilizes advanced technology to enhance precision and accuracy in implant placement, potentially improving outcomes and reducing complications compared to traditional techniques.

Can knee replacement surgery be performed on both knees simultaneously, or is it typically done one at a time?

While simultaneous bilateral knee replacement can be considered for select patients, most individuals undergo staged procedures, addressing one knee at a time to minimize post-operative complications and facilitate rehabilitation.

How long do knee implants typically last, and what factors can affect their longevity?

Knee implants can last 15-20 years or longer, but their durability may be influenced by factors such as patient activity level, implant design, material quality, and surgical technique.

Can knee replacement surgery be performed in younger patients, and are there any special considerations for this population?

Knee replacement in younger patients may present challenges due to the need for long-term implant durability and potential revision surgeries over their lifetime. Careful patient selection and counseling are essential.

What are the potential complications of delaying knee replacement surgery, and when is the optimal time to consider surgery?

Delaying surgery may lead to worsening pain, functional limitations, joint deformity, and compromised outcomes. The optimal timing for surgery depends on the individual’s symptoms, functional status, and response to conservative treatments.

Are there any lifestyle modifications or preventive measures that can help delay or minimize the need for knee replacement surgery?

Lifestyle modifications such as weight management, regular exercise, joint protection techniques, and appropriate footwear may help alleviate knee pain and delay the progression of arthritis, reducing the need for surgery.

What are the differences between total knee replacement and partial knee replacement, and how is the appropriate procedure determined?

Total knee replacement involves replacing the entire knee joint, while partial knee replacement addresses only the damaged compartment. The choice between procedures depends on the extent and location of arthritis and the patient’s anatomy.

What types of anesthesia are used for knee replacement surgery, and what are the associated risks and benefits?

Knee replacement surgery can be performed under general anesthesia, regional anesthesia (such as spinal or epidural), or a combination of both. The choice depends on patient factors and surgical preferences, with each option carrying its own risks and benefits.

Are there any factors that may increase the risk of complications or adverse outcomes following knee replacement surgery?

Factors such as advanced age, obesity, smoking, diabetes, heart disease, and certain medications may increase the risk of complications and warrant careful preoperative evaluation and optimization.

What are the most common reasons for knee replacement revision surgery, and how are complications addressed?

Reasons for revision surgery include infection, implant loosening, instability, wear and tear, and persistent pain. Revision procedures aim to address complications and restore function, often requiring more complex surgical techniques.

How does the choice of implant type (e.g., fixed-bearing vs. mobile-bearing) affect outcomes and longevity in knee replacement surgery?

Implant selection depends on factors such as patient age, activity level, and surgeon preference. Both fixed-bearing and mobile-bearing designs have shown favorable outcomes, with differences in wear patterns and range of motion.

Are there any complementary or alternative therapies that can help manage knee pain and improve function without surgery?

Complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, and dietary supplements may provide symptomatic relief and improve joint function, although their efficacy varies among individuals.

How does knee osteoarthritis differ from other types of arthritis, and what are the treatment options specific to this condition?

Knee osteoarthritis is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage in the knee joint, leading to pain, stiffness, and loss of function. Treatment options include lifestyle modifications, medications, injections, physical therapy, and surgical interventions like knee replacement.

Can knee injuries such as ACL tears or meniscus tears be effectively treated without surgery, and what factors influence the decision for surgical intervention?

While some knee injuries may heal with conservative measures like rest, physical therapy, and bracing, surgical intervention may be necessary for severe or unstable injuries that compromise joint stability and function. Individualized treatment plans are based on factors such as the severity of injury, patient activity level, and treatment goals.

I am fellowship trained in joint replacement surgery, metabolic bone disorders, sports medicine and trauma. I specialize in total hip and knee replacements, and I have personally written most of the content on this page.

You can see my full CV at my profile page.