Approximately 1 in every 5 adults experiences knee pain, with many experiencing a level of severity that makes even ordinary tasks extremely difficult. The prevalence of knee pain is primarily due to its wide range of possible causes. Ligament strains and sprains, fractures, and gout are just a few of the most common causes of knee pain. It can also be a result of excess bodyweight or can be referred pain from the hip, femur, or spine. Arthritis, in particular, is one of the most common causes of knee pain. In fact, degenerative joint disease can develop in any of the knee’s three compartments.
Fortunately, if you experience knee pain due to arthritis, you may have more options than you realize. At Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, partial knee replacements are an option for those whose arthritis is localized in the knee. A partial knee replacement provides patients relief from pain, while also preserving healthy ligaments and bone.
Dr. Hal Chaudhary is one of the knee specialists that you can talk to about a partial knee replacement. Here is information that will help guide your discussion.
Partial Knee Replacement
Partial knee replacement, which is also known as knee arthroplasty, is a minimally invasive and highly precise procedure in which only the most damaged portions of the knee joint are removed. The removed portions are then replaced with a custom fit prosthetic part made of high-grade materials. Plastic and metal are common materials; however, these will vary based on allergies.Specifically, there are three types of partial knee replacement: unicompartmental, bicompartmental, and patelloemoral. A surgeon will choose the appropriate procedure based on the location and severity of the patient’s symptoms.
Unicompartmental Partial Knee Replacement
A unicompartmental partial knee replacement is performed when only one of the three compartments of the knee is damaged. The surgery begins with a 3-4 inch incision in the front of the patient’s knee. Then, the damaged bone is removed from the end of the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (the larger of the two lower leg bones) is reshaped to accommodate an implant. The implant is then inserted, replacing the top surface of the tibia bone and the removed portion of the femur. The incision is then closed and a bandage is applied.
Bicompartmental Partial Knee Replacement
A bicompartmental partial knee replacement is performed when portions of the inner compartment and the kneecap compartment need to be removed. Similar to a unicompartmental replacement, it begins with a 3-4 inch incision in the front of the patient’s knee. Next, the patient’s kneecap is resurfaced and the implanted is set into the proper position. Finally, the incision is closed and a bandage is applied.
Patallofermoral Partial Knee Replacement
A patellofemoral partial knee replacement is performed when the kneecap has been damaged due to either natural wear and tear, arthritis, or another related condition. The surgery begins with a 3-4 inch incision in the front of the patient’s knee. Next, the kneecap is resurfaced and cartilage is removed from beneath the bone to create space for the implant. The implant is then inserted between the kneecap and the thighbone and positioned into place. Finally, the incision is closed and a bandage is applied.
Benefits of Partial Knee Replacements
First and foremost, partial knee replacement is intended to relieve severe knee pain. As a minimally invasive procedure, however, it also offers a number of additional benefits over total knee replacement, including:
- Preservation of all healthy bone and ligaments
- Less tissue trauma
- Reduced blood loss
- Reduced post-operative pain
- Faster rehabilitation and recovery
- Improved range of motion in the knee
The recovery timeline is different for each patient. The type of procedure, implant, and the patient’s overall health/age are all factors that affect speed of recovery. Most patients can return to their daily activities within four to eight weeks following an operation, some patients are able to return in one to two weeks, but full recovery can sometimes take up to six to 12 months.
While your knee heals, you can expect mild surgical discomfort for the first few weeks. It is critical that patients get up and moving as soon as possible after surgery, and ideally within the within the first 24 hours. At Beacon’s Outpatient Surgical Center, our staff gets patients up and moving a few hours after surgery. By the time patients leave the surgical facility, they are able to walk with the assistance of a rolling walker on their own. Having a caretaker to assist with daily activities can make recovery more comfortable, especially for the first few days post-surgery. Patients must have a person drive them home from surgery and patients cannot drive until they are off pain medications and can hit the brake quickly.
The key to managing pain post-surgery is to rest, ice, and elevate the surgical leg. While it is important to start using the surgical leg as soon as possible, patients must also rest often, ice the surgical knee five-six times/day for 15-20 minutes at a time, and elevate the leg to prevent swelling.
Am I a Candidate for Partial Knee Replacement?
Candidates for partial knee replacement have severe, debilitating knee pain that interferes with everyday activities. Most, but not all, candidates have a degenerative form of arthritis such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
In general, candidates also tend to be younger, more active, and in otherwise good health. This is primarily due to the fact that partial replacements are intended for localized damage.
When Should I See a Specialist?
It’s important to talk with a specialist if you experience one or more of the following:
- You experience severe pain, swelling, instability, or grinding in your knee.
- You experience persistent pain that is not relieved with conservative treatments.
- Your symptoms prevent you from normal living.
A good surgeon will talk through all suitable treatment options. At Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Dr. Chaudhary is able to recommend the most suitable implant based on a patient’s age, activity level and joint health. Dr. Chaudhary has been a board certified orthopedic surgeon and a member of Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine for nearly a decade. He has years of experience with joint replacement, and can quickly determine if a partial knee replacement is the best treatment option a patient.