Total knee replacement

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Total knee replacement surgery may be more common than you’d expect. In the United States alone, 4.7 million Americans, were reported as having an artificial knee in 2014. A knee replacement procedure, also known as an “arthroplasty” is often recommended when non-surgical treatment options haven’t been successful. Our ultimate goal at OrthoAspen is to provide orthopedic solutions to help you return to the active Aspen lifestyle we know you enjoy.

If you’ve been concerned that a total knee replacement may be the next step to alleviate pain and discomfort, we’ll do our best to reduce your fears. Our surgeons are experts in identifying and treating a number of knee disorders. We’re also here to ensure our patients remain informed every step of the way.

Causes & Symptoms

At OrthoAspen we recognize the importance of having a knee that isn’t restricted from movement due to pain, discomfort or other inconvenient circumstances. When conservative efforts to treat knee conditions haven’t been as successful as hoped for, a total knee replacement can be effective in helping individuals return to the daily lifestyle and activities to which they’re accustomed.

When the knee has been compromised as a result of severe osteoarthritis, or the cartilage between the femur and tibia has experienced extensive wear, total knee replacement can often serve as a successful treatment pathway.

Indications that may warrant total knee replacement include:

  • Severe knee pain limiting daily activities (such as walking, getting up from a chair or climbing stairs).
  • Moderate to severe pain that occurs during rest or prevents sleep at night.
  • Chronic knee inflammation and swelling that is not relieved with rest or medications.
  • Unsuccessful results from administration of pain relief medications, injections, physical therapy or other conservative treatments.
  • Bow-legged knee deformity.

Typical symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee:

  • Injury or trauma to the joint
  • Fractures at the knee joint
  • Increased body weight
  • Repetitive overuse
  • Joint infection
  • Inflammation of the joint
  • Connective tissue disorders

At OrthoAspen we typically recommend surgery when conservative methods haven’t produced desirable outcomes. For this reason, we’ll conduct a full physical examination to determine if a total knee replacement is needed. In addition, your doctor will go over your medical history and take X-rays to evaluate the extent of knee damage and/or arthritis.


If total knee replacement is recommended, your OrthoAspen surgeon will set a surgery date. During the procedure, the following steps will occur:

  • Spinal or general anesthesia is administered.
  • Damaged portions of the femur bone are removed at appropriate angles using specialized jigs at the incision site.
  • The femoral component is attached to the end of the femur with or without bone cement.
  • The damaged area of the tibia (shinbone) and the cartilage are addressed, including the removal of the deformed part of the bone and any bony growths, creating a smooth surface for attachment of the implants.
  • The tibial component is secured to the end of the bone with bone cement or screws.
  • A plastic piece called an articular surface will live between the implants and serve as a smooth gliding surface for movement, supporting the body’s weight and will allow the femur to move over the tibia, like the original meniscus cartilage.
  • The femur, tibia and new components are put together to form the new knee joint; to ensure the patella (kneecap) glides smoothly over the new artificial knee, its rear surface is also prepared to receive a plastic component.
  • The knee joint is tested through its range of motion. The entire joint is then irrigated and cleaned with a sterile solution. The incision is carefully closed; drains are inserted and a sterile dressing is placed over the incision.
Post-Operative Care

To help encourage full, safe and effective recovery, rehabilitation begins immediately following surgery. A physical therapist provides specific exercises to strengthen the leg and restore knee movement. Knee immobilizers are introduced to stabilize the knee.

Most patients are able to walk with crutches or a walker. A continuous passive motion (CPM) machine can also be used to encourage movement of the knee joint. Continuous passive motion is a device attached to the treated leg which constantly moves the joint through a controlled range of motion, while the patient relaxes. Physical therapy will also include a home exercise program to help strengthen thigh and calf muscles.

At OrthoAspen, we want to help you get back to the active lifestyle safely and as quickly as possible.

If you have questions regarding total knee replacement diagnosis, surgery or recovery, contact us any time at 970-544-1289.


Visit OrthoAspen in two convenient locations
Aspen Clinic
Aspen Valley Hospital
0401 Castle Creek Rd., Suite 2100,

Aspen, CO 81611
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400
Basalt Clinic
Midvalley Medical Center
1450 E. Valley Rd., Suite 201,

Basalt, CO 81621
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400