Types of Knee Operation

Knee operations are extremely common and usually very effective. People are often understandably nervous about having a knee operation but in most cases, people make an excellent recovery.  

Surgery may be appropriate for repairing damage to the knee ligaments, cartilage or bone, or a combination of these.  You may be in and out the same day, or you may need to stay in hospital for a few days, depending on the surgery.

Here you can find out more about the most common knee operations performed, including what surgery involves, the most common problems and risks associated with surgery, and what rehab involves afterwards.

Most Common Knee Operations

1) ACL Surgery

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sits in the middle of the knee joint and is responsible for controlling knee stability. It can be injured either through direct contact injuries or awkard twisting movements of the knee. This can result in either a partial tear or complete rupture of the tendon.

Many people manage to function perfect well with a damaged ACL, but other people have ongoing instability and pain. If this is the case after intensive rehab, a knee operation may be required. If the ACL is partially torn it can be repaired, if it is completely ruptured, an ACL Reconstruction may be required. Here you can find out more about ACL injuries, when surgery is appropriate and what it involves.

2) Total Knee Replacements

Total knee replacements are the most common knee operations carried out for arthritis

This is where the knee joint is replaced with a metal and plastic implant, usually due to severe arthritis. Arthritis is caused by wear and tear of the bones and cartilage which leads to stiffness, pain and weakness. A knee replacement is usually carried out if you are in severe pain, or your sleep is affected and a rehab programme has failed to help.

In this section you can find out if you would benefit from a knee replacement, what the surgery involves, lots about the rehab and recovery and the common problems associated with this knee operation. You will also find answers to the most common questions on knee replacements.

3) Partial Knee Replacements

Partial knee replacements are done when arthritis is confined to one side of the knee joint

When arthritis is confined to one side of the joint, only part of the knee needs to be replaced. One of the big advantages of this is that you keep all your knee ligaments. There is very strict criteria for partial knee replacements, but as a result they have extremely good success rates. People are usually out of hospital very quickly and make excellent recoveries.

In this section you can find out about what actually happens duing surgery, all about the recovery process including how quickly you can start doing things, the most common problems associated with the surgery, and find answers to the most common questions about partial knee replacements.

4) Arthroscopy

An arthroscopy is the most common knee operation performed

An arthroscopy is the most common knee operation carried out. Keyhole surgery is performed to look inside the joint and wash out any debris. This is usually done when there is damage to the cartilage that lines the knee joint, either due to a meniscus tear or arthritis.

It is a simple procedure that is usually done as a day case, despite being carried out under general anaesthetic. People can usually get up and about immediately, although they may need crutches for a couple of days. Regular exercises should be done to keep the knee moving properly, and ice can be used to reduce any post-op pain and swelling. It can be combined with a meniscectomy (where some damaged cartilage is removed)

5) Osteotomy

This is where a small amount of bone are removed around the knee. It may be done for conditions such as Osgood Schlatters Disease

Recovering From Knee Surgery

The recovery process from each type of operation will vary but with any surgery, there are things you can do to reduce pain, bleeding and swelling all of which will help to improve recovery:

1. Ice: Using Ice regularly after a knee operation helps to reduce the amount of bleeding and swelling into the joint.  There are a number of different ways to apply ice - visit the ice wraps section.  It is extremely important that ice therapy is used safely and effectively - visit the ice section to find out more

2. Exercises: After a knee operation it is important to get the knee moving quickly to prevent any stiffness and weakness developing.  Your physical therapist should go through a rehab programme with you.

3.  Attitude: A positive attitude can make a real difference.  Our mood affects how we experience pain.

What Next?

If you want to find out more about knee operations, choose the appropriate link above to find out more about each type of operation, including information on knee surgery recovery, common questions about the different types of surgery and post-op pain information.

If you need some help working out what is wrong with your knee, visit the knee pain diagnosis section.

Go to Knee Treatment Guide or Homepage

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The material on this website is intended for educational information purposes only.  It should not substitute or delay medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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