Knee Replacement

Knee replacement (arthroplasty) is a surgical procedure to replace all or part of the knee joint with an artificial joint (prosthesis) in order to relieve pain that cannot be controlled by other treatments. The pain usually is caused by severe damage to bone and cartilage at the lower end of the thigh bone (femur) and upper end of the shin bone (tibia). The back of the kneecap also may be replaced with artificial material. The artificial joint is usually made of both metal and hard plastic parts, but ceramic parts also may be used. Recent improvements in surgical techniques and prosthesis design and materials have made joint replacement easier and longer-lasting, with less pain and fewer complications for patients. The patient’s orthopaedic surgeon decides which type of prosthesis to use.

The surgeon also will determine, based on the extent of joint damage, whether to perform a full or partial knee joint replacement. The patient normally is put to sleep with general anesthesia during the surgery, though in some cases a spinal injection, or block, is used instead to prevent the patient from feeling pain during the procedure. The patient usually spends 3-5 days in the hospital, and physical therapists will help the patient walk on the first day after surgery. Recovery takes three months to a year.

Patients from across the nation trust their orthopaedic care to the specialists at UAB Medicine, where they benefit from treatment delivered by skilled professionals in a compassionate environment. Our physicians and surgeons perform a wide range of complex and minimally invasive procedures and treatments, from joint replacements and bone cancer screenings to scoliosis correction and injury repair. They work closely with UAB Medicine specialists in other areas – including physical therapists, nutritionists, and oncologists – to ensure that you receive comprehensive and personalized care. Our pledge is to work with you to determine the best course of care for your individual needs, and we keep you informed every step of the way. You will find that we offer all levels of care and can take care of our patients from start to finish. Our team can take care and manage anything from a simple first time partial or total knee replacement to one that has been operated on numerous times requiring extensive reconstruction utilizing the most advanced medical techniques.

Following a knee replacement, we encourage you to begin moving on the day of surgery with the help of physical therapy or nursing staff. You will undergo 2 sessions of therapy per day during your hospital stay, which will help improve and expedite your recovery and increase the chances that you will be discharged home rather than to a rehabilitation program or skilled nursing facility. At UAB Medicine, we offer partial knee replacement to those who meet the criteria for surgery. We also implement a new pain control protocol, which will help decrease your pain and give you greater ability to move.

Our physicians receive additional training in their area of focus and stay up to date on the latest advances through professional medical societies such as the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Hip and Knee Society. Because our physicians and surgeons take leadership roles in professional medical societies and author textbooks that help mold tomorrow’s orthopaedic care, they are nationally and internationally renowned for their expertise. In addition, they are working on numerous research ventures focused on treating and diagnosing joint infection, improving patient outcomes, and biomechanical studies on implants. This research could enhance the level of care you receive at UAB Medicine in the future.

Care Providers


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