Our knees play a great role in overall mobility, that knee pain can take its toll on your quality of life. Knee problems can be so debilitating that it can get in the way of enjoying the things we love, gardening, exercising, or just living a normal active life.
The good news is that, there are options to restore your mobility, regain your independence, and return to an active lifestyle. Before even considering knee replacement surgery as an option, generally physicians will try to find other ways of assuaging the pain. For instance, physical therapy, analgesics and walking aids might be the answer to many knee problems including those stemming from arthritis.
However, it is also nice to know that when other treatments prove to be futile, knee replacement surgery is an option. Knee replacement surgery will help renew the ability to participate in several fun, day to day activities such as gardening, going on walks, golfing, and overall mobility.
Surgical Treatment Options
If you have not experienced adequate results with medication and other conservative treatments, surgery may provide the pain relief you long for, in addition to allowing you to return to the lifestyle and activities you enjoy. Our doctors can tell you whether you might benefit from joint replacement and explain the reasons why it may, or may not, be right for you.
If you and your doctor decide that surgery is an option to relieve your pain, your doctor will provide the specific-to-you details of which type of artificial joint he or she will use, what you need to know to prepare for the surgery, how the surgery will be performed, and what you can expect once you are up and moving again.
The orthopedic surgeon can evaluate your condition and tell you if knee replacement would be right for you. If your family physician, an internist, or a rheumatologist is currently treating your condition, you can ask them to refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation.
Consequences of Delaying Surgery
Surgery is a difficult decision. You should talk with your doctor to better understand the risks and complications before making the decision to undergo total knee replacement; but keep in mind that osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, which means that the disease, and your pain, is likely to get worse over time. So why wait? Consider the fact that better outcomes have been reported in those patients who had a total joint operation earlier in their disease process.1 Two years after their operation, patients who chose surgery earlier in the disease process had improved function and reduced pain compared to those who waited.1
- Repair or resection of torn cartilage (meniscus) from knee or shoulder
- Reconstruction of anterior cruciate ligament in knee
- Removal of inflamed lining (synovium) in knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist, ankle
- Repair of torn ligaments
- Removal of loose bone or cartilage in knee, shoulder, elbow, ankle, wrist
Partial Knee Resurfacing (PKR)
There are three compartments to the knee: the medial (inside) compartment, the lateral (outside) compartment and the patellofemoral (kneecap) compartment. Depending on where the arthritis affects your knee, partial knee resurfacing may be an option for you. PKR is a growing procedure. There are approximately 70,000 partial knee resurfacing procedures done in the U.S. each year.
Unicompartmental Knee Resurfacing is a procedure that resurfaces only the affected compartment of the arthritic femur and the tibia.
Patellofemoral Knee Resurfacing is a procedure that resurfaces the worn patella and the trochlea (the groove at the end of the thighbone).
Benefits of Partial Knee Resurfacing - Quicker Recovery
Because the PKR artificial joints are smaller than total knee implants, the surgical incision may be smaller. A smaller incision may lead to a smaller scar. Other potential benefits to PKR include a quicker operation and a shorter hospital stay compared to a total knee replacement. Rehabilitation may also be more progressive. Because less bone is removed and there is less trauma to soft tissue during surgery, your knee may feel more natural than with a total knee replacement.
1 Arthritis Foundation website, http://www.arthritis.org/faqs-taking-control-of-oa.php, accessed Oct. 2008.
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