When is knee replacement surgery needed to treat knee osteoarthritis?

Written by: Mr Ahmad Ali
Edited by: Conor Lynch

We recently spoke to highly skilled and proficient orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Ahmad Ali, to quiz him on knee osteoarthritis, including how it develops, what the symptoms to watch out for are, and when knee replacement surgery comes into the picture as an effective treatment option for the patient’s knee osteoarthritis.

How exactly does knee osteoarthritis develop?

As we age, our cartilage can wear away naturally. Also, damage can occur prematurely due to infection or trauma. When this occurs naturally, as part of the ageing process, it is known as osteoarthritis.


As this cushioning cartilage thins, the knee begins to receive less protection against shock, and the bone ends can become injured by day-to-day activities such as walking. The underlying bone can become inflamed, which in turn can produce aching pain and stiffness.


What are the main symptoms of knee osteoarthritis?

There are, unfortunately, quite a few symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. The main ones include the following:


• aching pain within/around the knee
• occasional swelling
stiffness after activity


How is knee osteoarthritis treated?

It is preferable that osteoarthritis is treated conservatively (without surgery) for as long as possible. However, the need for replacement of the joint may ultimately become inevitable, due to deterioration in the condition of the joint, leading to increased disability and pain.


Conservative (non-invasive) treatment of knee osteoarthritis involves a combined approach, including adequate pain management, weight loss, and physiotherapy. Hopefully, with conservative management, patients can delay the need for surgery for many years after the onset of arthritis in the knee.


What does knee replacement surgery involve?

Knee replacement surgery, like all joint replacement surgery, is a very major operation and requires careful consideration and discussion before proceeding. If, however, the patient and surgeon have come to the decision that there is no other alternative, replacement surgery can offer immense symptomatic relief to the patient.


The aim of knee replacement is to replace (re-surface) the deficient joint surfaces with low friction artificial surfaces. The best outcome is, in general, achieved by restoring mechanical alignment and soft tissue balance. 


Knee replacement surgery can be divided into total knee replacement surgery or partial knee replacement surgery. In both cases, the operation is carried out under general or regional anaesthesia (spinal), and lasts approximately between one to two hours.


Total knee replacement surgery involves the replacement of all aspects of the joint with an artificial bearing surface. Surgery restores the normal alignment of the joint, as well as the smooth articulating surface that has been damaged by osteoarthritis.


Mr Ahmad Ali is a highly esteemed Brentwood and London-based orthopaedic surgeon. Consult with him today via his Top Doctors profile if you are considering knee replacement surgery as a treatment option for your knee osteoarthritis.

By Mr Ahmad Ali
Orthopaedic surgery

Mr Ahmad Ali is a highly-skilled and trained orthopaedic surgeon in the Essex area, specialising in knee procedures. His sub specialties include total knee replacement, repeat knee replacement, osteotomycomplex knee injuries (such as multiple ligament reconstruction), and sports injuries. He offers private surgery with Spire Hartswood Hospital, Spire London East Hospital, and Nuffield Health Brentwood Hospital. 

By using computer-navigated surgery, Mr Ali has not only stayed up to date with new technologies in medicine, but he has also embraced them to improve the outcome for his patients. This new technology helps enhance the accuracy of the replacement operation, the function of the new artificial joint, and increases its longevity.

Mr Ali studied at Oxford University and Sheffield University before furthering his training on the higher surgical-training programme at Health Education England's Northwest School of Surgery. During his studies, he trained in three different regions that exposed him to a broad range of complex orthopaedic conditions, experience, and insight. To expand his training, Mr Ali went to Canada during his training years to work in two major specialised units.

After working for a year as a fellow, Mr Ali started his specialist career with Barking, Havering, and Redbridge NHS Trust in 2003, working within their hospitals. Nearly 20 years later, he remains a highly-regarded consultant there, mainly with Queen's Hospital in Romford, Essex, and King George Hospitals in Goodmayes, Essex.

To add to his dedication in his specialty, Mr Ali helped found Essex Knee Group, a collective of specialist knee surgeons who meet regularly. The group of esteemed doctors share their patient outcomes and experience to advance their skills and benefit both the doctors and their patients.

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