Total knee replacement surgery, also known as total knee arthroplasty (TKA), is a common procedure in adults with severe arthritis of the knee. When the cartilage in the knee wears down and there is bone-on-bone rubbing in the knee joint, arthritis can become extremely painful and uncomfortable in daily activities such as walking or getting out of bed. While non-operative management, including steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, injections, and physical therapy, is commonly the initial treatment option, TKA is an effective procedure if non-operative management fails to alleviate the pain.
Knee replacement surgery involves resurfacing the ends of the femur and tibia, as well as the back of the knee cap (patella), with metal and plastic components so that the bone-on-bone rubbing is eliminated and the pain is reduced. Physical therapy begins the day after surgery, and patients are usually able to walk without assistance within two weeks and walk without a limp within two months. Full recovery from knee replacement surgery can be between three and six months.
Many patients are curious as to what sports they can play after they are fully recovered from knee replacement surgery. Based on current clinical research, it is believed that the TKA components rarely loosen over time. However, repeated high-load activities may loosen the components after many years. As a result, high-impact activities such as basketball or soccer are not beneficial for the longevity of the knee replacement. Low-impact sports such as golf, doubles tennis, or swimming, on the other hand, are completely safe and encouraged.