Knee Replacement

Orthopaedic Specialists of Maryland - Knee Replacement Information

Knee Anatomy

The healthy knee is a hinge joint. The three bones that form the knee are the thighbone (femur), shinbone (tibia), and kneecap (patella). The femur and tibia are held together by ligaments, which are strong bands of tissue that stabilize the joint. The end of the femur, the top of the tibia, and the back of the patella are covered with a tough lubricating tissue called cartilage. Cartilage acts like a natural shock absorber, preventing both bone on bone contact and providing a smooth, pain-free surface for the bones to glide against. The knee also contains synovial membranes, which produce synovial fluid to help lubricate and nourish the cartilage.

Healthy Knee

Partial Knee Arthritis

Total Knee Arthritis

Knee cartilage can be compared to the tread of an automobile tire, very durable but susceptible to wear over time. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative process, which results in the wearing out of the cartilage that protects the bones in the joints. As we age, the tread surface slowly erodes until the underlying bone is exposed. This exposed bone can be painful when the joint moves and bears weight.

Arthritis is a term that is used to describe over 100 different kinds of conditions that can affect the human body. Arthritis affects millions of Americans each year with symptoms including pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of motion in affected joints.

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The Knee Replacement Procedure

Total knee replacement, also called total knee arthroplasty, uses metal alloy and polyethylene (plastic) components to resurface the bones in the joint. The implants are designed to re-create the shape of the bones in a healthy joint.

The end of the thighbone can be compared to a rocking chair. It has two distinct surfaces, or rockers, that contact the top of the shinbone. Each rocker is called a condyle, and there are two condyles at the end of the thighbone. The femoral component re-creates each rocker at the end of the thighbone. The top of the tibia is covered with a metal tray that is used to support the polyethylene plastic bearing. The polyethylene acts as the joint's natural cartilage, absorbing stress and providing smooth movement. The polyethylene on the back of the kneecap also provides smooth movement against the femoral component.

Healthy Knee

Arthritic Knee

After Surgery

Knee Implant

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Minimally Invasive Total Knee Replacement

The field of orthopedics is constantly researching new techniques to help make joint replacement surgery less painful and to help patients recover more quickly. One of the most talked about orthopedic advancements is Microplasty® minimally invasive joint replacement, also called mini-incision joint replacement. Traditional total knee replacements require an incision between eight and ten inches long. The patient's size and the extent of the joint's damage can sometimes determine the length of the incision. The incision allows the surgeon to fully visualize the joint, the diseased tissue, and the implants. Rapid Recovery Microplasty® minimally invasive total knee replacement may be performed through a four to six inch incision, half the length of a typical knee replacement incision. Surgeons can perform surgery through such a short incision because they use instruments specifically designed to move around soft tissue, rather than cut through it.

It is important to remember that surgeons still use the clinically proven implants that they feel will best treat your specific condition.

Why are Surgeons Performing Rapid Recovery Minimally Invasive Knee Replacement?

Today's implants offer exceptional outcomes, but traditional surgical techniques require a long and involved physical recovery. Surgeons understand that patients desire to heal quickly so they can return to a more active and enjoyable lifestyle.

In addition to a shorter incision, surgeons using the Rapid Recovery Program have implemented a highly organized treatment plan for their patients' physical and mental health. Rapid Recovery patients are educated with a variety of materials. The comprehensive educational materials will help patients understand the surgical procedure and its outcomes.

Rapid Recovery patients begin preoperative strengthening exercises to help them prepare for surgery and their recovery. Patients may be given a comprehensive nutrition plan to help ensure optimum health before surgery.

Rapid Recovery surgeons may also implement a unique pain program during surgery that is designed to dramatically reduce a patient's postoperative pain. Reducing patients' postoperative pain is critical to helping them begin their postoperative rehabilitation and to helping them make a Rapid Recovery.


While uncommon, complications can occur during and after surgery. Some complications include infection, blood clots, implant breakage, misalignment, and premature wear. Although implant surgery is extremely successful in most cases, some patients still experience stiffness and pain. No implant will last forever and factors such as the patient's post-surgical activities and weight can affect longevity. Be sure to discuss these and other risks with your surgeon.

There are many things that your surgeon may do to minimize the potential for complications. Your surgeon may have you see a medical physician before surgery to obtain tests. You may also need to have your dental work up to date and may be shown how to prepare your home to avoid falls.

After Surgery

After surgery, you probably will be hospitalized for two to three days. During this time, you will receive pain medication and begin physical therapy. It is important to start moving your new knee as soon as possible after surgery to promote blood flow, to regain knee motion, and to facilitate the Rapid Recovery process. You should be out of bed and walking with crutches or a walker within 24 hours of your surgery.

You will be shown how to safely climb and descend stairs, how to get into and out of a seated position, and how to care for your knee once you return home. It is a good idea to enlist the help of friends or family to help you once you do return home.

Before you leave the hospital, your therapist will show you a variety of exercises designed to help you regain mobility and strength in your knee. You should be able to perform these exercises on your own at home. When at home, it is important to continue with your exercises as your physician has instructed.

Rapid Recovery

Rapid Recovery after minimally invasive knee replacement takes approximately half as long as traditional total knee replacement. Every person's recovery time will vary, but most people should be able to drive after two weeks, garden after three to four weeks, and golf about six to eight weeks after surgery. Your surgeon will tell you when you can return to these activities and will also tell you which activities to avoid.

You will typically not be allowed to participate in high-impact activities or contact sports. These types of activities place extreme pressure on the joints, which could lead to complications.


We know the decision to have surgery is sometimes difficult. We hope this brochure has helped you understand some of the basics of Rapid Recovery Microplasty® minimally invasive knee replacement surgery so that you can make the best decision for yourself. Millions of others have made this choice, allowing them to return to more active lifestyles. This brochure is not intended to replace the experience and counsel of your orthopedic surgeon. If you have any further questions, please speak with your orthopedic surgeon.

Physical Therapy and Exercises for Knee Replacement

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