If you struggle with a chronic knee condition, you know there’s more to it than pain and stiffness. A bad knee can keep you from doing the things you love. If you’re ready to get back on your bike, dance the night away or simply tackle a flight of stairs again, a knee replacement may be an option for you.
Our team of orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and other specialists are leading experts in the Midwest, with knee replacement outcomes that exceed the national average.
We use the latest surgical and rehabilitation techniques to help our patients recover as quickly and comfortably as possible – with many of our patients safely returning home the same day. With personalized care and expertise, we’re here to answer questions, help you decide if knee replacement is right for you, and determine what type of surgery will help you best accomplish your goals.
"Because of your surgical artistry and motivation in [physical therapy], I was able to get back to every activity I did before, except now I am the strongest I've ever been athletically."
The knee is protected by cartilage, a smooth, rubbery tissue that cushions the joint. If the cartilage in your knee becomes worn or damaged, moving your knee can become painful. Knee replacements can be used to treat severe cases of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and damage caused to the knee joint by other conditions.
A knee replacement or partial knee replacement surgery replaces the injured knee joint with an artificial one. An artificial knee can correct alignment issues, reduce stiffness, ease pain and improve mobility.
We’ll only recommend a knee replacement if other nonsurgical treatment options don’t work to manage your symptoms.
The best way to know if a knee replacement is the right treatment for you is to talk to an orthopedist. However, consider talking to your doctor if you notice any signs that you might need a knee replacement:
- Your knee pain no longer responds to nonsurgical treatments
- Your knee pain is getting more intense and frequent
- Your mobility has become increasingly limited
- You notice consistent or recurring swelling in your knee
- You’re not able to do the things you love
We perform four different types of knee replacement surgery.
During a partial knee replacement, also called unicompartmental knee replacement, only part of your knee is replaced. This surgery is used when knee damage is limited to one compartment of the knee, the knee ligaments are intact and there aren’t significant alignment issues.
We’ll only remove the damaged cartilage and leave the healthy tissue in place. This enables us to make a smaller incision, meaning partial knee replacement has a quicker recovery time than total knee replacement.
A total knee replacement, also called total knee arthroplasty, is a type of knee replacement surgery where your entire knee is replaced with an artificial one. During the procedure, we’ll remove the knee cartilage and resurface the kneecap to fit perfectly with the artificial joint.
Total knee replacements are used to treat knee pain that interferes with sleep and other daily activities. This type of knee replacement surgery is typically recommended if other surgeries have been ruled out.
Artificial knees can last more than 20 years, but ordinary use can cause them to wear out over time. In some cases, a knee replacement revision is needed to fix a damaged artificial knee. In rare cases, a revision surgery may be needed if there is an infection, a complication from surgery, or if the knee replacement surgery didn’t resolve your knee issues.
During a revision, we’ll replace the damaged parts of the artificial joint with new pieces. Depending on the condition of the joint, we may need to replace the entire joint or only part of it.
The likelihood that you’ll need revision surgery depends on many different factors, including the age you are when you have your knee replaced. People who get a knee replacement at a younger age are more likely to need a revision. If you have any questions about knee replacement revisions, ask one of our orthopedic surgeons.
Patellofemoral replacement surgery replaces the area under the surface of the kneecap and the groove under the kneecap (trochlea). This surgery is the most effective option when the damaged tissue only affects the under-surface of the kneecap.
Because only part of the knee is replaced during patellofemoral replacement surgery, it has a quicker recovery time than total knee replacement surgery.
Whenever possible, our patients return home the same day or the day after surgery. We may recommend assistive devices – crutches, walkers, raised toilet seats and tub chairs – to make your recovery more comfortable. Other devices, including post-operative icing machines, can make some parts of your recovery plan easier.
Knee replacement recovery time varies from person to person, and it depends on many different factors, including what type of knee replacement surgery you have. You’ll likely be able to stand and walk short distances, like to and from the bathroom, the same day as surgery. In most cases, you can expect to get back to easy, everyday activities about a month after a knee replacement.
Throughout your recovery, you’ll meet with your orthopedic surgeon, physical therapist and others from your care team to check how you’re healing. We’ll be by your side every step of the way.
When going directly home after a knee replacement isn’t an option, recovering at a comfortable hotel might be just what you need. Our Hotel Recovery Program is more affordable than an overnight hospital stay, and you’ll get high-quality care brought directly to your private room.
Movement is key to a successful recovery, which is why your first physical therapy session will be as soon as possible after your knee replacement surgery.
During your physical therapy sessions, we’ll use exercise, education and manual therapy to strengthen your knee, increase flexibility and improve mobility. You’ll learn how to use your new knee, how to avoid injury and what you can do to continue to improve your knee function.
Knee replacements can last up to 20 years or more. However, the more active you are on your artificial knees, the more quickly they may wear out. One of our orthopedists will be able to answer any questions you have about how long a knee replacement may last and the best time for a knee replacement. We’ll also work with you to determine the best type of implant based on your unique needs and lifestyle.
Preparing for your knee replacement can help you have a stress-free recovery. Consider taking some of these simple steps to make yourself more comfortable after your surgery:
- Follow your care team’s instructions. In most cases, we’ll recommend exercises to do before your knee replacement surgery, sometimes called “prehab.” These exercises help strengthen the muscles around your joint, which can make rebuilding strength and mobility after your surgery easier.
- Prepare your home. You won’t be as mobile during your recovery. Removing tripping hazards, clearing a walking path, adding safety rails and putting necessary items where it’s easy to reach them will help make your recovery safer and easier.
- Ask your loved ones for help. You’ll need to take a break from your usual activities after surgery. Reach out to friends, family, neighbors or coworkers for help with errands, driving, pet care and anything else that might be difficult during recovery.
- Arrange a ride home from surgery. If you need help getting a ride, our team will help you find a way to get home safely.
- Pack a bag. While many of our patients go straight home after surgery, some recover at a nearby hotel or the hospital. Gathering necessary items like your photo ID, comfortable clothes, cell phone charger and other comforts will ensure you have everything you need after your procedure.
It’s important to remember that you’ll need a lot of help during your recovery. After a knee replacement surgery, your mobility will be limited which also limits your ability to drive, do chores and care for yourself or others in your household. Having someone in your life to help care for you is a key part of your recovery plan.
Patients often tell us they aren’t sure who to ask to help them after their surgery. Any capable adult can lend a hand during your recovery. We recommend asking your neighbors, coworkers, family members or friends.
The amount of time it takes to get back to your typical activities varies from person to person. Remember to take things slow and be gentle with yourself as you recover.
In most cases, you can expect to get back to low-impact activities, like driving, household chores and running errands, after a month. After two months, most people can resume low-impact physical activities like swimming and going on walks. Most people are usually back to running, playing sports and other high-impact activities after three months.
Visit our blog to learn more about what to expect during knee replacement recovery.
We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, PreferredOne and many others.
You can check with your insurance to see if your plan covers part or all of the services needed. Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are member services numbers to help you get started:
- HealthPartners: 800-883-2177
- HealthPartners Medicare plans: Visit our contact page
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota: 800-382-2000
- CIGNA: 800-244-6224 (insurance through work); 866-494-2111 (insurance directly or through the Exchange)
- Medica: 800-952-3455
- Medicare: 1-800-MEDICARE
- PreferredOne: 763-847-4477 (in the Twin Cities); 800-997-1750 (outside the metro area)