What is a Knee Replacement?

Jul 5, 2018

Not having the ability to play with your grandchildren or walk through the garden because of knee pain can be tough and discouraging.

At Mountainstate Orthopedic Associates, we can help you get back on track to doing the things you love and being with the people you care about.


The knee is one of the strongest joints in the body and one of the most complex. The knee joint is made up of four bones that are connected by muscles, ligaments and tendons. The four bones that make up the knee are the:

  • Femur: the femur is the large bone on the thigh
  • Tibia: the tibia is the large shin bone
  • Fibula: the fibula is on the smaller shin bone, next to the tibia
  • Patella: the patella, or kneecap, is on the front of the knee


A knee replacement, also called a total knee replacement, is a surgical procedure where the diseased knee joint is replaced by artificial material (prosthesis). The prosthetic components are typically made of cobalt-chomin, titanium and highly cross-linked polyethylene.

“Most people think that when you get a knee replacement, you chop here and there and remove this and that, but that’s not the case. Doctors remove arthritic cartilage and cement a new cap on the bone, which provides a new surface for the patient to walk on,” said Matthew Darmelio, MD of MOA.


A knee replacement surgery is an option for individuals who suffer from pain that majorly impacts their daily life. Knee replacement surgery relieves pain and restores function to knee joints.

Candidates for knee replacement surgery have already gone through other treatments that may include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, ambulatory assistive devices, bracing, exercise, dieting and injection therapy.  When non-operative treatments fail to relieve symptoms, knee replacement surgery may be an option.

Most patients who receive a knee replacement are above the age of 60; however, there are certain circumstances when younger patients are candidates for surgery.

>Knee replacement surgery may be recommended if:

  • Pain makes it hard to walk or if it causes stiffness that limits mobility
  • You feel moderate or severe knee pain while resting, day or night
  • Chronic knee inflammation and swelling that does not improve with rest or medications
  • Non-operative treatments fail to control your pain



  • You and your doctor will sit down, and he or she will explain the procedure or answer any questions you may have.
  • You will go over your medical history with your doctor (including medication allergies) and receive a complete physical exam.
  • You will be asked not to eat eight hours prior to the surgery.
  • You will be told to ask someone to stay with you for a week or two after your surgery.


Knee replacements are performed while you are asleep (under general anesthesia), and it does require staying overnight for typically two or three nights in the hospital.

  • Your doctor will make an incision on the front of the knee.
  • The doctor will remove the damaged surface of the knee joint and resurface the joint with the prosthesis.
  • Your doctor will close the incision, and a drain may be placed in the incision site to combat fluid build up.
  • A bandage will be applied.


You will then be taken to a recovery room, which is where you will wake up. As you wake up from surgery, you will be closely monitored to ensure there are no issues with the anesthesia. From there, you will be taken to your hospital room.

While in the hospital, the medical staff will help you manage your pain in a safe and effective way. Your doctor will work with your nurses to manage the type of medication you receive, the dosage and frequency.

For knee replacements, it is important that you begin moving the joint after the procedure. Your physical therapist will come meet with you on the day of the surgery and start planning an exercise program with you. A continuous passive motion machine (CPM) could be used to start your physical therapy program. You may put all of your weight on your knee immediately after surgery.


Once you are discharged and able to go home, it is important to remember to keep the area clean. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to do this.

If there is swelling, you will be advised to elevate your leg and apply ice on the knee.

During your follow-up visit, your doctor will remove your stitches or staples.

If you experience any of the following, you should report it to your doctor:

  • Fever
  • Redness, swelling or bleeding around the incision site


Being in any branch of the military would be draining physically. Your body goes through a lot of ups and downs, and that was exactly the case for Wally Dittman.

Wally joined the Army in 1968 and spent a lot of his time jumping out of helicopters that were 12-15 feet in the air with 95-pound sacks on his back. This kind of activity eventually started to cause damage to his knees and legs.

Wally also spent 35 years in the coal mines crawling on knees that weren’t 100% to begin with. Unfortunately, his knee pain was enough to make him retire.

Not being able to do much walking, he decided to repair and finish antique furniture; however, that proved to be more difficult than imagined.  He couldn’t walk to his shop without limping around, and he relied on his wife to help him.

After a year of lying around, he knew something had to change.

Wally went to see Dr. Darmelio at Mountainstate Orthopedic Associates, who replaced his knee in 2007 and his second knee in 2013.

Wally can now walk in the morning and in the evening every day. Despite the pain that first came with the surgery, Wally says it never hurt more than where he was before surgery.

“You have to take a little bit of pain to get better,” Dittman said.

Wally is now 100% and is where he wants to be. He is able to continue repairing his furniture and continue doing what he loves.


At Mountainstate Orthopedic Associates, the results of knee replacement surgery are positive.

Within four to six weeks, patients have the ability to drive and resume normal activities; however, it may take up to three months to a year to fully recover and feel the benefits of a knee replacement.

Give us a call at 304-599- 0720 to schedule an appointment.

Categories: Knee Replacement