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The most common condition that results in the need for knee replacement surgery is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that affects mostly middle-aged and older adults. Osteoarthritis is characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage and adjacent bone in the knees.
Other forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis that results from a knee injury can also lead to degeneration of the knee joint. In addition, fractures, torn cartilage, and/or torn ligaments also can lead to irreversible damage to the knee joint over the years.
The decision to replace the painful knee with an artificial one is a joint decision between you and your physician. Other, alternative treatments may first be used, including assistive walking devices and anti-inflammatory medications.