Guide: Partial Knee Replacement

In the past century, medical science has made exponential progress. This progress hasn’t restricted itself to any one particular branch of medicine; instead, it has trickled down into each specialty, whether it is gynecology, cardiology, or neurology. In particular, with orthopedics, this progress has alleviated symptoms and helped individuals with conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, or dislocations.

With the onset of age or a traumatic experience, there are several conditions that an aging individual or an injured individual can begin to experience. In the case of age-associated arthritis or post-traumatic arthritis, individuals begin to experience symptoms of their joint wearing and tearing, resulting in reduced motions, pain, disturbance in daily activities, and stiffness.

The Diagnosis & Treatment

Through consulting with a center, individuals can reach a conclusive understanding of their bone health. Rather than living with painful symptoms and a reduced range of motion, it is important to administer the required interventions, be it through a surgical procedure. A specialist and experienced doctor will consider your symptoms, will perform a thorough physical exam to check for loss of motion or swollen joints and will use X-rays and blood tests, to reach a firm diagnosis.

There are a variety of options through which arthritis can be treated. These treatments plan are inclusive of exercise, diet, and physical therapy. In certain cases, however, a surgical procedure is critical due to the degree of joint damage. Following are the conditions when a partial-knee replacement surgery becomes imperative:

  • The pain persists despite taking anti-inflammatory drugs paired with maintaining healthy body weight.
  • If an X-ray determines an individual’s eligibility for a partial-knee replacement, due to the damage being contained to a particular compartment.

If left untreated with no human intervention, individuals can face painful deformity and immobility for the entire course of their life.  

The Necessity for a Partial Knee Replacement

As a result of the breakdown of the cartilage being restricted to a particular compartment, a partial knee replacement surgery (uni-compartmental knee) becomes a suitable option. This form of surgery involves resurfacing only a part of the knee, be it the medial, lateral, or patella-femoral compartment of the knee, as opposed to the entire knee. A doctor replaces the impaired compartment by using an artificial implant, termed as a prosthesis. With only minimal resurfacing of the knee, the natural motion is restored, and pain is alleviated. It is plausible for one to wonder or for individuals to weigh in the pros and cons of a partial knee replacement surgery due to the recovering time involved, the uncertainty of functionality, and concerns of a partial knee replacement scar.

However, by understanding the following elements, individuals can understand how partial knee surgery, when carried out with precision, practice, and skill, can result in beneficial results, both in the short-term and long-term.

  • It is a minimally-invasive procedure, which maintains natural ligaments.
  • It allows patients to go home the same day.
  • It enables patients to have a full range of motions two weeks post their surgery.
  • Most patients are pain free in two weeks post their surgery.
  • With an incision being inevitable during the surgery, scarring is minimal and can be expedited with appropriate care. It is, however, also dependent on genetics and exposure to sun rays.

Should Younger Individuals Opt For Partial Knee Replacement?

In the past, partial knee replacement surgery was set aside for older patients. However, focusing on how the recovery time is faster, paired with less pain, and being highly-effective, the surgery has increasingly become a preferred option for younger patients.

Partial knee replacement patients tend to heal faster and do better than total knee replacement patients. This is because the surgery is minimally invasive, resulting in less bone removal and preservation of native tissues and ligaments. With individuals recovering faster and finding their replaced knee to be relatively ‘natural feeling,’ patients can reestablish their normal functioning range, with ease and in a short period.