Innovative knee replacement procedures help patients get back to an active life
For individuals who enjoy the active life – biking, running, aerobic activity, sports and the like – suffering a knee injury or debilitating arthritis can be a major blow. The knee is one of the most easily injured joints in the body and knee replacement surgery, whether total or partial, is the most common type of joint replacement surgery. When knee pain is getting in the way of everyday activity, it may be time to seek the help of an orthopaedic surgeon.
Nick Grosso, MD, orthopaedic surgeon and knee replacement specialist at Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland explains there are several causes of knee deterioration including:
– Arthritis: severe arthritis of the knee is the most common cause of knee deterioration and pain that results in partial or total knee replacement surgery.
– Old knee injuries: injury that involves the meniscus or causes damage to cartilage can result in the development of post traumatic arthritis in the joint, especially if the injury was not properly addressed when it occurred.
– Wear and tear: Some activities such as running can be very hard on the knees over time. Wear and tear and genetic predisposition to arthritis of the knee can cause knee problems.
Full or Partial Knee Replacement? That is the Question.
When other modalities to treat severe pain and arthritis of the knee such as anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, arthroscopic procedures and physical therapy no longer relieve debilitating knee pain, knee replacement surgery can improve a patient’s quality of life.
Total Knee Replacement
The knee joint is made of three compartments:
- Inner (medial) compartment
- Outer (lateral) compartment
- Patella (knee cap)
Total knee replacement surgery is an inpatient procedure that requires a hospital stay of several days. The surgery involves removing the damaged bone, cartilage and connective tissue. Your surgeon will replace the damaged joint with an artificial implant made of metal and plastic and will choose the implant that is most appropriate depending on a patient’s age, weight, activity level and overall health. The implant consists of three components:
- A metal piece for the femur
- A tibial component (for the top of the leg), made of metal and plastic
- The patella component consists of plastic and fits inside of the knee cap
The implant mimics the natural structures of the knee to restore joint function and relieve pain. After the recovery period and rehabilitation, patients can typically perform most of the movements they used to prior to the surgery without pain.
OACM patient, Sharon Buck (watch her video below), had knee replacement surgery in May 2012 to alleviate her extreme pain and knee swelling as a result of arthritis. Four days after her surgery Ms. Buck says, “I returned home from the hospital and walked up two flights of stairs to my bedroom. My outcome has been fantastic!”
Partial Knee Replacement
Unlike a total knee replacement, partial knee replacement surgery, also known as knee resurfacing, replaces only the affected or arthritic portion of the knee while sparing a patient’s healthy knee ligaments and cartilage. OACM surgeons only remove cartilage and bone in the diseased area of the knee, replacing these tissues with an implant made of metal or plastic.
Multiple options for partial knee replacement exist. If appropriate, OACM surgeons can have custom partial replacements manufactured based on a patient’s CT scan. The benefit of this custom implant is a near perfect fit that may improve the longevity of the implant. Partial knee replacement usually can be performed through a smaller incision and may only require a one to two day hospitalization.
Dr. Grosso explains that for younger patients whose arthritis is isolated to one compartment of the knee, a partial replacement is less invasive and often preferred. “Knee replacements do not last forever,” he says. “The benefit of a partial knee replacement, especially for a patient in their 40’s, is that if the implant wears out 20 years down the road, converting to a total knee replacement will be a less traumatic surgery.”
Recovery from a partial knee replacement can also take less time than a traditional total knee replacement surgery, which bodes well for the active patient.
Post-Surgery Rehab is Critical
Dr. Grosso emphasizes that post-surgical rehabilitation and physical therapy is essential to a patient’s recovery from partial and total knee replacement surgery. While every patient’s recovery is different, OACM surgeons typically recommend that patients go to therapy for eight to 12 weeks following surgery. “Rehab after surgery is critical for the best outcomes,” Dr. Grosso says. “Great surgery needs to be complemented with great therapy.”
Dr. Grosso says that interestingly, over past 10 years, the average age of individuals needing knee replacement surgery has become progressively younger. “The fastest growing group of patients having knee replacement surgery is between the ages of 45 and 55 years,” he says. “Twenty years ago, surgeons wouldn’t typically consider patients until they were in their mid-50s or later. But, people are getting arthritis earlier in life mainly because they are more active, having played sports all their life. These individuals don’t want to slow down. While this is great from an overall health standpoint, it takes its toll on the joints.”
Learn more about knee replacement surgery at www.mdbonedocs.com or call 866-927-1338 to make an appointment with a specialist at Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland.
View OACM’s knee replacement video here or check out our library of videos on YouTube.