As one of the largest joints in your body, the knee plays a vital role in weight bearing and motion. It is also very susceptible to injury.
When a knee injury does occur, the severity and how much it limits your activity will help determine which type of treatment is appropriate. Our orthopedic surgeons at Youngstown Orthopaedic Associates use several types of procedures to repair knee joint injuries.
Treatment options include arthroscopy and knee replacement. There are three main types of knee surgery, and patients should understand those differences.
In summary, arthroscopy is minimally invasive and allows surgeons to work with a knee scope inserted through a small incision. Partial-knee replacement is less invasive than total knee replacement and involves replacing one of the three components of the knee joint with an implant. Total-knee replacement is the most invasive surgery that is reserved for the most severely degenerative joints because it involves replacing the entire knee joint with a prosthesis.
Surgeons use knee arthroscopy to investigate knee problems and repair damage from injuries and arthritis. This type of surgery is generally used to repair torn meniscus, treat mild arthritis, joint injuries, remove loose pieces of broken knee cartilage and inflammatory or non-inflammatory conditions. Knee scope surgery may also be performed to repair torn or damaged ligaments, or repair misaligned knee caps.
Most arthroscopies are performed on patients between 20 and 60 years old. Good candidates are active people in their 30s and 40s who are starting to have knee pain resulting from decades of running, skiing, basketball or other sports.
In this type of procedure, surgeons insert a knee scope through the small incision and use a video monitor to see the area better. From there, one or several more small incisions may be made. These incisions will be used to insert surgical instruments to repair the damage.
Recovery from arthroscopic surgery is usually relatively quick. You should be able to perform general day-to-day tasks within the first week. By the second week, you can return to work if your job is not physically demanding. By the third week, you can begin light exercise. Physical therapy will be prescribed according to each physician’s protocol.
Partial-replacement knee surgery is a less invasive procedure than a total knee replacement and is generally used to treat patients in whom arthritis has damaged one portion or compartment of the knee, causing debilitating pain. The knee has three compartments — the medial, the lateral and the patello-femoral. A partial knee replacement involves replacing either the medial or the lateral compartments with an implant.
Recovery will vary for each individual. Some patients recover quickly, while others may take months to recover fully, but the relief can last many years or even a lifetime.
Total-replacement knee surgery is one of the largest and most complex surgeries an orthopedic surgeon can perform. Doctors use it to treat patients with advanced arthritis and debilitating pain.
It involves replacing the entire knee joint with a prosthesis, and as a result, the recovery period may be extended when compared to a partial knee replacement. Each physician has a plan or protocol for patients to follow. The protocols include a discharge timeline from the hospital to a temporary stay at a rehabilitation facility to outpatient therapy.
It may be time to have knee replacement surgery if you have:
- Severe knee pain that limits your everyday activities
- Moderate or severe knee pain while resting, day or night
- Chronic knee inflammation and swelling that doesn’t improve with rest or medications
- Knee deformity: a bowing in or out of your leg
- Knee stiffness: inability to bend and straighten your knee
- No pain relief from or inability to tolerate nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other conservative measures
Which surgery is for you?
OK, you have knee pain and it seems to be getting worse. Is knee replacement surgery in your future? That depends. An evaluation by one of our orthopedic surgeons consists of several components:
- A medical history. One of our orthopedic surgeons will gather information about your general health and ask you about the extent of your knee pain and your ability to function.
- A physical examination. This will assess knee motion, stability, strength, and overall leg alignment.
- X-rays. These images help to determine the extent of damage and deformity in your knee.
- Other tests. Occasionally blood tests or advanced imaging, such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, may be needed to determine the condition of the bone and soft tissues of your knee.
To schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic surgeons, ask your primary care physician for a referral to Youngstown Orthopaedic Associates.