Frequently Asked Questions

What causes arthritis in the knee?

Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease – the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is also known as “wear and tear arthritis” since the cartilage simply wears out. When cartilage wears away, bone rubs on bone causing severe pain and disability. The most frequent reason for osteoarthritis is genetic since the durability of each individual’s cartilage is based on genetics.

Trauma – can also lead to osteoarthritis. A bad fall or blow to the knee can injure the joint. If the injury does not heal properly, extra force may be placed on the joint, which over time can cause the cartilage to wear away.

Inflammatory Arthritis – swelling and heat (inflammation) of the joint lining causes a release of enzymes which soften and eventually destroy the cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus and Psoriatic arthritis are inflammatory in nature.

What is the difference between total knee replacement and unicompartmental knee replacement?

Total knee replacement involves the replacement of all of the opposing joint surfaces in the knee, while Unicompartmental knee replacement replaces the most worn area of the knee only. This is only appropriate in certain situations and Dr Harbury can discuss this further with you if appropriate.

What is revision knee surgery? How is it different to the knee replacement?

Revision surgery is different in that the original components are removed and new components are implanted. The technical aspects of the surgery are more complex than the original total knee replacement. However, the preparation for surgery and hospital experience tend to be very similar to the primary knee replacement.

How is my new knee different?

You may feel some numbness in the skin around your incision. You also may feel some stiffness, particularly with excessive bending activities. Improvement of knee motion is a goal of total knee replacement, but restoration of full motion is uncommon. The motion of your knee replacement after surgery is predicted by the motion of your knee prior to surgery. Most patients can expect to fully straighten the replaced knee and to bend the knee sufficiently to go up and down stairs and get in and out of a car. Kneeling is usually uncomfortable, but it is not harmful. Occasionally, you may feel some soft clicking of the metal and plastic with knee bending or walking. These differences often diminish with time and most patients find these are minor, compared to the pain and limited function they experienced prior to surgery.

Your new knee may activate metal detectors required for security in airports and some buildings. Tell the security agent about your knee replacement if the alarm is activated.

Instruction Sheets for Knee Surgeries

Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy

This procedure, also called bone realignment, is designed to improve the movement of the patella (the kneecap) to correct patellar tracking disorder. The procedure usually requires hospitalization and general anesthesia.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runners Knee)

This condition is an irritation of the cartilage on the back of the patella (the kneecap) that causes pain in one or both knees.

Patellar Tracking Disorder

The patella (kneecap) is held in place by the quadriceps and patellar tendons. Ligaments on either side also help stabilize the patella. Patellar tracking disorder is a painful condition caused by a problem with the bones, muscles or

Ligament Injury Reconstruction

This procedure replaces a damaged or torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) with part of a hamstring tendon (called an autograft) from the patient’s leg.

Joint Arthroscopy

Arthroscopic surgery is used to diagnose and treat many joint problems. This significant advance in joint care allows for a rapid return to improved activity. Most commonly used in knees, shoulders and ankles, the arthroscope can also be used for the spine, hips, wrists, and elbows. This animation shows the knee joint.

Knee Replacement

Total knee surgery removes the damaged and painful areas of the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (lower leg bone). These areas are then replaced with specially designed metal and polyethylene plastic parts.