Partial Knee Replacement – An Alternative to Total Joint Replacement

By Western Berks on March 21st, 2016

As we age, many of us experience increased pain in our knees. Most of this pain is the result of osteoarthritis (OA), which is the wearing away of cartilage that helps our bones glide smoothly. If nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, muscle strengthening, rest and weight loss do not relieve knee pain, joint replacement surgery may be in order.

The extent of this surgery will depend on how much damage is evident in your knee joint. The knee has three compartments, and if only one of these compartments is damaged, your physician may recommend a partial joint replacement. Benefits of such surgery include

  • smaller incisions, one third to one quarter the size of the traditional total joint incision;
  • a shorter hospital stay; and
  • faster recovery and rehabilitation time.

In addition, a partial knee replacement provides better joint function because healthy natural bone and joint are preserved, which may be helpful if you ever need a total joint replacement in the future. The surgery takes approximately

1 to 1½ hours, and patients usually go home the day after the operation, instead of the 3 to 4 days after total joint replacement. Common complications include stiffness from scar tissue, blood clots and infection.

Your physician will take a thorough medical history and administer tests, including x-rays, to determine if you are an appropriate candidate for partial joint replacement surgery. Ideal patients are those who are older than 55 years of age, have OA that is confined to one knee compartment, have an intact anterior cruciate ligament, have no significant inflammation and are relatively sedentary or perform low-impact exercises

Because rehabilitation is much shorter than with total knee replacement, you can soon resume low-impact activities such as walking, biking or swimming. The goals of partial knee replacement are to reduce pain and help patients regain as much range of motion as possible. Western Berks Physical Therapy can help design a program to meet your specific needs and goals and get you back on your feet as soon as possible.