Our knees are crucial to our ability to move. Known as a hinge joint, the knee is made up of three compartments: inside (medial), outside (lateral), and in front of (patellofemoral) the knee. It is located between the thighbone (femur) and lower leg bone (tibia).
A common knee injury occurs when cartilage protecting the inside of the knee from painful bone-on-bone friction deteriorates. Because cartilage is not able to heal or repair itself, once cartilage wears away, it is gone for good. This often results in pain, weakness, and loss of function in the area. Deterioration occurs mostly within the medial compartment (inside the knee) and is due to arthritis, most commonly osteoarthritis, which causes inflammation, stiffness, and immobility. Arthritis usually forms in one of the three compartments of the knee, and then the pain radiates into the other nearby areas.
Knee surgeries are one of the most common performed by orthopedic surgeons. There are approximately 700,000 knee replacement surgeries performed every year in the United States – for a variety of reasons, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and meniscal tears.
If nonsurgical treatments such as physical therapy and cortisone shots do not alleviate a patient’s symptoms, joint replacement surgery is usually the next recommended option.
So which type of joint replacement surgery is right for you? Orthopedic surgeons get this question a lot – and whether they recommend a total or partial knee replacement depends on the situation.
Total Knee Replacement
If a person experiences severe arthritis and cartilage deterioration in a knee, and their symptoms do not resolve with physical therapy and other forms of nonsurgical treatments, a total joint replacement may be their best bet. Patients with severe osteoarthritis and progressive pain are typically those who opt for a total knee replacement procedure.
During this procedure, the diseased parts of the knee joint are surgically removed and replaced with an artificial joint or prosthesis, commonly made from metal or plastic. The lower end of the thighbone is replaced with a metal shell, while the upper end of the tibia is replaced with a metal stem.
A total knee replacement aims to return a patient’s knee to a healthy state, most importantly, with its former function and mobility, allowing a patient to resume their usual activities.
Partial Knee Replacement
In less severe cases, a partial knee replacement may be the selected course of action.
During a partial knee replacement, a small incision is made and only the area of injury or deterioration is removed or resurfaced. In this surgery, only the bone and soft tissues that are damaged or unhealthy are reconstructed, preserving the other healthy tissues surrounding it. Surgeons can put a small prosthesis in place without sacrificing other structures such as the cruciate ligaments known as ACL, MCL, and PCL, and other parts of the knee.
Because it’s a less invasive procedure than a total joint replacement, the nerves are also spared during a partial knee replacement. Patients tend to request this procedure over a full replacement because it can result in more natural-feeling knees. In addition, recovery time is less, which means quicker return to normal activities.
At Advanced Bone & Joint, we believe that the main reason for joint replacement and reconstruction is to provide our patients with an alternative to nonsurgical treatments that no longer relieve your pain. If joint damage or arthritis pain is limiting your activities, or otherwise disrupting your life, contact the orthopedic specialists of Advanced Bone & Joint at (636) 229-4222, or request an appointment online.