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Knee surgery

We ask a lot of our knees. They flex and pivot to give us a wide range of motion, act as a shock absorber, and bend countless times throughout our lives to carry us where we want to go. When your knee hurts or has been injured, it can dramatically affect your quality of life.  

The first course of action is conservative knee treatment such as medication or physical therapy. But when those steps don’t deliver relief or restore function, your doctor may discuss injections or surgery. At Allina Health Orthopedics, that means you’re surrounded by a team of committed experts who collaborate to address your knee pain and problems—and also care for the whole you.


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What it is

The knee is our body’s largest joint and it’s also one of the most complex, which makes it susceptible to injury. When feel pain or lose mobility in your knee, surgery might be the best option. Here are common types of knee surgeries:   

  • Arthroscopy Arthroscopic knee surgery: In arthroscopy, your surgeon makes tiny incisions and uses special instruments to assess and sometimes repair damage in the knee. It is a minimally invasive kind of surgery that can be used to diagnose or repair a torn meniscus (cartilage), misaligned patella (kneecap) or injured ligament.  
  • ACL reconstruction: A common knee injury is a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Some people are able to resume normal activities without surgical intervention. If surgery is recommended, your surgeon will construct a new ACL using other healthy tissue.  
  • Total knee replacement: If your knee has been damaged by trauma or disease, a total knee replacement may be the answer. Osteoarthritis is the most common reason for knee replacement surgery. In a total knee replacement, the entire knee joint is replaced with artificial material. 
  • Partial knee replacement: In this procedure, only the damaged parts of the knee are replaced. There are fewer complications with a partial versus a total knee replacement, but partial replacements have a higher rate of revision (surgery redo). You and your doctor will talk about which option is right for you. 
  • Knee fracture surgery: The patella (kneecap) can break from a fall or direct blow. The broken pieces can sometimes be surgically reconnected with pins, screws or wire. If the broken pieces are too small or damaged to fix, they are removed. 
  • Torn meniscus surgery: The meniscus is cartilage in the knee joint that acts as a shock absorber between the bones. Sudden injury or degeneration over time may tear the cartilage. Your doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery to trim or repair the tear.    
  • Patellar tendon repair: The patellar tendon connects the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shin bone). It can tear, or rupture, during a sudden, explosive movement. If the tendon completely ruptures, a surgeon can suture the torn tendon. 

Good for treating

  • Arthritis 
  • Fractures 
  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries 
  • Dislocation 
  • Meniscal tears  

What to expect

Once you’ve made the decision to have surgery, your Allina Health Orthopedics team will collaborate to prepare you for your procedure, recovery at home and rehabilitate your knee in the weeks and months afterward. For some procedures, you may be asked to attend a pre-surgery class. 

Throughout your care, you’ll have access to a wide spectrum of pre- and post-surgery services, and support from our compassionate health care providers every step of the way. 

Good to know

The experienced orthopedic surgeons at Allina Health have performed thousands of knee surgeries, and work in close partnership with staff at our hospitals and surgery centers.  Allina Health hospitals and outpatient surgery centers observe the highest standards of quality and best practices. 

Related links

First published: 10/26/2020
Last reviewed: 10/26/2020

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