Baby boomers are an active generation. An active lifestyle means more wear and tear on joints, particularly the knees. Over-use injuries, and playing sports well into our 50’s and 60’s, means more boomers are coming to see the orthopedic surgeon. One mayor cause of discomfort is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can cause the cartilage, or cushion, in your knee joint to wear out over time. It’s common after age 45, and after age 55 it affects more women than men. When the bones start to rub against each other, you start to feel pain, stiffness, swelling and difficulty moving.
Knee osteoarthritis can be treated with physical therapy (to build muscle strength around the knee), stretching exercises, anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, braces and alternative therapies. When the pain starts to disrupt sleep, daily activities and keeps you from moving, you and your doctor might have a conversation about surgical solutions.
Among the surgical options available, knee arthroplasty, or joint replacement is the most long-lasting alternative. If your osteoarthritis is located in one or two sections, or compartments of the knee, and has not progressed to all three compartments, you might be a candidate for partial knee replacement surgery. Each case is different, but in general, younger people with early osteoarthritis who don’t need a total knee replacement are candidates for partial knee replacement.
The procedure is also called partial knee resurfacing because it preserves about two-thirds of the knee surface and, depending on the case, allows an implant to go on top of the resurfaced portion. A robotic arm combined with a computer guidance system (MAKOplasty) helps to control the amount and evenness of bone spared, so that the implant goes on the surface correctly. Younger people who are active and only have pain in one (or two) knee compartments can have the partial knee resurfacing/replacement and still have a good total knee replacement later, if and when they need a total replacement.
Use of a robotic arm enhances the surgeon’s precision and proper positioning of the implant. This translates into removing as little bone as possible and the reducing trauma, making recovery time faster.
Compared to total knee replacement, partial knee replacement better preserves range of motion and knee function because it saves healthy tissue and bone in the knee. People tend to be more satisfied with partial knee replacement compared with total knee replacement, because it’s a less invasive solution designed to restore the feeling of a natural knee.
After a partial knee replacement, you can start moving the knee the day after surgery. You will work with a physical therapist to mobilize the knee while in the hospital and for two to four weeks after discharge from the hospital. Most people go home one or two days after surgery.
If you have a joint injury or concerns about long-term osteoarthritis pain, please contact Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute, with locations across northeast Florida.