It is still possible to have arthritis after knee replacement surgery. However, people who need the surgery are less likely to experience pain from arthritis after they recover from the procedure.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of arthritis that affects the joints, particularly the knee joints. The cartilage that supports the knees wears down, causing the bones to rub against each other. As a result, it causes severe pain and stiffness.

This condition tends to occur in people over 50 years old. There is currently no cure for arthritis, and symptoms worsen with time.

Doctors will recommend surgery when a person does not respond to conservative treatment methods, such as medications and physical therapy. While a joint replacement helps a person experience less pain, they may still have arthritis postsurgery.

This article explores the relationship between knee replacement surgery and arthritis, including the benefits and disadvantages of the operation, as well as management tips for arthritis.

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Knee replacement surgery, or arthroplasty, is a procedure that involves replacing a knee joint that is weak or damaged by arthritis with an artificial joint.

According to the American Joint Replacement Registry (AJRR), there were 995,410 total and 51,114 partial knee arthroplasty operations in 2020.

Total knee replacement surgery — replacing the entire joint — is often a solution for people with end-stage OA in the knee. A 2017 study found OA to be the reason behind 96% of knee replacement surgeries. Another reason behind a person requiring knee replacement surgery may be inflammatory arthritis.

Knee replacement causes significant pain relief and increases mobility for most people. However, it is important to note that the procedure is not a permanent cure.

A 2018 study recognized pain as an adverse outcome after total knee replacement. While knowledge in this field has advanced over recent years, there is still space for further research to determine all possible outcomes.

A knee replacement surgery replaces the surface of the bones in the knee.

There are four main stages that a surgeon will follow to perform a knee replacement:

  1. Prepare the bone by removing cartilage and bone from the necessary areas.
  2. Use metal components to replace the cartilage and bone.
  3. Cut the kneecap’s underside and use plastic to resurface it.
  4. Insert a plastic spacer between the metal components to enable them to move across each other.

A knee replacement is not a complete cure for OA. However, the aim is to increase motion in the knee.

Most people with the procedure can straighten the knee to almost its full extent and bend it enough to go up stairs without difficulty. This improved movement may also mean a person can resume activities.

The procedure offers pain relief and can correct some of the damage that results from arthritis.

As replacement surgery is not a cure for arthritis, around 20% of people experience chronic pain after recovering.

Other possible complications that can arise following knee replacement surgery include the following:

Read more about the possible risks of surgery.

If a person has knee replacement surgery, they should protect the area to maximize the chances of a successful outcome. This includes:

  • avoiding falls, where possible
  • undertaking light exercise
  • attending follow-up examinations with doctors

After recovering from the procedure, people will need to continue to manage their arthritis by:

  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • exercising regularly
  • taking medications if a doctor prescribes them

A person can improve knee function and reduce pain by restoring strength and flexibility.

Learn more about rehabilitation after knee surgery here.

Conservative treatment options for arthritis in the knee vary between individuals. However, it often includes the following:

Read more about knee replacement vs. knee injections.

A knee replacement surgery does not cure arthritis. However, it can offer pain relief.

If a person has partial knee replacement surgery, they may need another operation to replace the other side of the knee.

A total knee arthroplasty replaces the whole surface of the knee in one go. However, people sometimes require revision surgery.

Revision surgery is often longer and more complex than the original knee replacement surgery. Younger people with knee arthroplasty operations are twice as likely to require revision surgery as older people due to increased activity and as they have the replacement for longer.

A knee replacement surgery is a procedure that replaces either part of or the whole surface of the knee. People may require the procedure for different reasons. However, it is usually in response to arthritis.

A knee replacement surgery can restore movement in the knee and offer relief. However, it is not a cure for arthritis, and many people continue to experience chronic pain after they have the surgery.

To maximize the chances of effective recovery, people should perform light exercise to restore strength and flexibility in the knee, maintain moderate body weight, and take any medications a doctor prescribes.