If you are a “no pain no gain” person, chances are you may be suffering from chronic pain in your knees due to an injury, such as a sprain or strain; or degenerative condition such as arthritis, tendonitis. And chances are also that you have ignored the pain and, surprise! The pain is getting significantly worse.
Your knees are called hinge joints, which give us stability and provide the foundation for why we have stability and mobility. The knee joint is formed by the thighbone (femur), the shin (tibia), the fibula, and the patella (kneecap). The knee is composed of several ligaments that support the joint, including the ACL, PCL, MCL, and LCL.
Over time, these dependable powerhouse joints start to age and degenerate. Without managing symptoms, the knees become compromised and left vulnerable to damage, which most often, results in the need for surgical repair, known as joint replacement.
Knee replacements are a common course of action to alleviate chronic joint pain, as well as increase mobility and improve your overall quality of life. But what’s the difference between a total and a partial knee replacement?
Partial Knee Replacement
Knee replacement surgery is used to address arthritis, trauma, injuries associated with overuse, and connective tissue disorders. If you’re considering pursuing the knee replacement, your orthopedic surgeon will examine your knees and determine which procedure will be best for you. This will be based on the extent of damage to the knee, which determines how much or little of the joint must be replaced.
If a patient has degeneration in only one compartment, a partial knee replacement likely will be recommended. Partial knee implants are much smaller, and only the bone and soft tissue that are unhealthy are reconstructed during this procedure. Partial knee replacements are also less invasive and also leave the surrounding healthy tissue and other parts of the knee uncompromised. Mainly the nerves are left untouched and normal neurologic pathways that often are interrupted with total knee replacement are spared during the partial knee procedure.
Total Knee Replacement
Total knee replacement surgery – also known as an open surgery –is more invasive and recommended for those with severe injury or damage due to deterioration. During this procedure, the orthopedic surgeon removes the total damaged portion of the knee and replaces it with a prosthetic joint. Replacing the total knee will get rid of the unhealthy parts of the knee joint. The artificial knee joint functions the same as a real knee and once pain is gone after surgery, mobility and function will return and, most importantly, pain will be gone.
After either procedure, expect pain and swelling. Many patients will need a walker, wheelchair, or crutches during the first week post-op. Physical therapy will be mandatory to help rehabilitate the knee and provoke the return of mobility and optimal functionality. This will continue until the knee has completely healed, and after, depending on whatever your doctor recommends. Treatment will vary depending on each person’s case.
Recovery timelines for patients who undergo total or partial knee replacement are fairly consistent. Most patients regain complete range of motion within two weeks of surgery, and have reported that undergoing a partial or total knee replacement has improved their quality of life to the point that some feel as if they never had a surgical procedure at all.
Knee replacement surgery provides long-lasting relief and claim a 90-95% success rate. Plus, most knee replacements last up to 15 years or longer.
Usually methods of pain relief such as physical therapy, injections to reduce swelling and inflammation, and medications are attempted first before resorting to knee surgery. However, when all non-invasive courses of action are exhausted, it may be time to talk to your orthopedist about a knee replacement. If only a part of the knee is damaged, a partial replacement may be the better choice, but if there is more severe damage, a total knee replacement is usually the course of action.
When knee pain is limiting your quality of life, consider reaching out to the medical experts who have helped thousands regain mobility and movement. To learn whether a partial or total knee replacement is right for you, call the orthopedic specialists at Advanced Bone & Joint at (636) 229-4222, or request an appointment online.