Epworth performs more than 2,200 knee and hip replacement surgeries each year. We support our patients and their families at all stages, from diagnosis to special education clinics before treatment and rehabilitation programs to prepare for surgery or support recovery.
What is the knee joint?
The knee joint is made up of the thigh (femur) and shin (tibia) bones, as well as the back of the kneecap (patella). The bone surfaces are covered by smooth cartilage that provides a cushioning surface so that the bones move easily. The bony surfaces are also lubricated by fluid which is present in the joint. The cartilage and the lubricating fluid enable the knee joint to move smoothly and painlessly.
When is knee surgery recommended?
If you have recurrent pain from trauma or a knee condition and are finding it difficult to do everyday activities such as climbing the stairs, our orthopaedic surgeons may recommend knee surgery to increase mobility and reduce pain.
Robotic surgery available at Epworth
The MAKO robot allows for greater accuracy of cutting and a better fit of the prosthesis for knee and hip surgery patients. Clinical studies demonstrate that the technology improves the accuracy of alignment for knee replacements.
If you’ve only just started to experience knee pain, your doctor may recommend other non-surgical interventions to manage or reduce pain. For example, physical therapy, pain medication, physiotherapy, or weight management can be alternative or complementary options to treat knee pain.
Common conditions and injuries which may require surgery.
- Osteoarthritis is the most common form of knee arthritis, where the cartilage in the knee joint gradually wears away over time. This can lead to knee pain as the joint can’t move as easily. Though it is more likely to occur in people over the age of 50, younger people can also develop osteoarthritis.
Knee sporting injuries
- Due to the complexity of the knee joint, it is at risk of several different sporting injuries. Common knee injuries include tears in ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. Epworth doctors have worked in sports and exercise medicine for many years, including at the elite level. Epworth Richmond has renowned sport and exercise injury professionals.
- A knee fracture (fractured kneecap) can happen during a sporting injury or high-impact fall. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need surgery to correct the knee cap.
Orthopaedic evaluation for knee surgery
The Orthopaedic Unit has dedicated teams of nursing, medical and allied health staff to expertly manage and evaluate all orthopaedic conditions.
Once you have received a referral from your GP, you will be able to book an appointment with an Epworth specialist. Your specialist will then assess your X-rays, medical history and physical exam to provide personalised treatment options.
- During the early stages of investigating your knee pain, your doctor will likely arrange X-rays or Magnetic Resonance Images (MRIs) images to examine your bones and cartilage.
- Your specialist will ask you questions about your ability to perform everyday activities, pain level and general health.
- During your consultation, your doctor will perform a physical exam to assess your knee mobility and strength.
When booking an appointment with your specialist, you can speak with their administrative team to understand the fee for the consultation. We then recommend speaking with your insurance company to determine your out-of-pocket costs.
Why choose Epworth for your treatment?
Epworth is one of the largest providers of joint replacement surgery in the Asia-Pacific region, performing more than 4,000 knee and hip replacement operations each year.
Non-surgical treatmentDepending on your injury or condition, you may be recommended to make lifestyle changes or non-surgical interventions such as a splint or cast to heal your knee. Physical therapy and rehabilitation may also be suitable to help you manage the symptoms associated with your condition. If non-surgical treatment is no longer reducing your symptoms, we encourage you to speak with your doctor about alternative options.
Knee replacementA knee replacement is a type of surgery that aims to reduce pain and improve movement and quality of life by replacing damaged bones or cartilage with artificial parts.
Partial knee replacementA partial knee replacement, also known as a uni-compartmental surgery, is when only part of the knee is resurfaced with metal or plastic components. A partial knee replacement is suitable when only part of the knee is damaged.
Total knee replacementTotal knee replacement surgery is recommended for patients who have extensive knee damage which requires the knee to be replaced with plastic or metal parts.
Revision knee replacementAll joint replacements will need to be replaced eventually; this is known as revision surgery. Depending on your age and lifestyle factors (such as weight), your knee replacement will typically last around 15 years before revision surgery is needed.
Ligament reconstruction (ACL, PLC, PCL and MPFL)Epworth provides patients with several different ligament reconstruction surgeries and is one of the largest providers of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery in Australia. Ligament reconstruction surgeries are surgical procedures to replace, tighten or secure one or more torn ligaments.
Patellar surgeryIf you’ve fractured your knee cap (patella), you may be able to heal the damage by wearing a cast or splint. However, in most patellar fractures, pieces of bone may have moved out of place and require surgery, known as patellar surgery, to restore the damage.
Osteotomy of the kneeYou may be suitable for an osteotomy if you’ve experienced underlying arthritic pain due to an affected compartment of the knee joint. This surgery is to correct the alignment of the knee to relieve pressure and promote stability.
Deciding whether knee surgery is right for you
The decision to undergo knee surgery is a collaborative one. We encourage you to speak with your family, GP, orthopaedic surgeon and read our Information for Patients booklet. The more you know, the easier it will be to decide whether this surgery is right for you.
Fees and private health
Once you speak with your specialist, you’ll be provided with the relevant information to give your insurance company. Your insurer will provide you with the breakdown of treatment fees.
Preparing for surgery
We are here to help patients and their families prepare for knee surgery.
Epworth Rehabilitation programs aren’t just something to consider after surgery. Our rehabilitation programs can also support people preparing for joint replacement or ligament surgery.
Occupational therapists recommend you review your home environment and implement simple modifications, moving trip hazards such as rugs and cords from walkways to ensure your home is safe following your surgery.
We encourage you to view the videos below, which outline the patient journey to give you the confidence to be an active participant from your pre-operative exercise program through to your return home and post-surgery recovery.
Preparing for total knee replacement surgery
Why choose Epworth for your surgery?
Epworth HealthCare is Victoria's largest not-for-profit private hospital group. For a total hip replacement in Australia, there is an average waiting time of 126 days in the public system, a stark contrast to the private system, where you’ll only wait an average of 60 days for treatment.
Our aim is to provide you with comprehensive and compassionate recovery care that will help you return to an independent and functional lifestyle as possible.
The day after your surgery
We are here to support you to get back to your life as soon and as safely as possible. Your care team will often try to get you moving the day after your operation. This will support your recovery and reduce the likelihood of complications, so you can book your next holiday, get back to playing sport, or return to work sooner.
Please watch the videos below to learn more about what to expect during the first few days after your operation.
Recovery after hip and knee surgery
Using a long-handled aid
It is normal to have some pain following major surgery. By controlling your pain as best we can, you are likely to recover faster. The team caring for you will offer you medications to manage your pain, enabling you to participate in your walking and exercise program. It is important to be proactive in asking for pain relief. As your pain improves, you will gradually require less pain medication. You will be supplied with pain relief medication on discharge.
Your physiotherapist will assist you in completing a daily walking and exercise program. The planned exercises aim to restore the range of movement and muscle strength.
The below videos discuss pain management, movement, exercise program and what to expect from your physiotherapist after a knee replacement surgery.
Total knee replacement FAQs
Depending on your personal needs and your GP or surgeon’s recommendations, you may be referred to a rehabilitation program.
How rehabilitation supports your recovery
Guided by Epworth physiotherapists and occupational therapists, rehabilitation will help you to feel stronger, safer and more confident to participate in everyday life activities.
To learn more about what you can expect from your rehabilitation program, please watch the video below.
Rehabilitation after knee surgery
Achieve your post-surgery goals
Our rehabilitation team will assess and develop a specific rehabilitation program based on individual needs and goals. Your program will consider factors such as pain, arthritis, movement, and personal goals such as returning to work or sport.
There are a few ways you can access our rehabilitation programs. Your surgeon and care team will work with you to identify the best option:
Rehabilitation at home
- A physiotherapist will visit you at home and develop a program you can complete in your local area. Our team will also connect you to local services such as gyms and pools if it benefits your recovery. The team will also recommend equipment you may like to purchase or hire to support recovery and long-term health.
- Outpatient program involves visiting the hospital a few times a week to complete your rehabilitation program.
- If you are recommended an inpatient program, you will stay in our rehabilitation hospital for about 5-7 days after your surgical admission.
Why choose Epworth for rehabilitation?
Epworth Rehabilitation offers patients access to an expert team of rehabilitation clinicians with purpose-built gymnasiums, hydrotherapy pools and other specialised rehabilitation equipment to support you.
We apply research and evidence-based techniques with decades of experience and a team-based approach to get maximise functional ability, encourage independence and enhance quality of life for all of our patients.
Fees and health insurance
Depending on the level of your private health insurance, our rehabilitation services may be covered by your health fund. You can also choose to self-fund if you prefer. Whichever option you choose, we will provide you with the financial information when you are referred to Epworth Rehabilitation.