A Surgical Approach to Help Knee Pain
The number one goal of a full or partial knee replacement is pain reduction.
A knee replacement, as performed by a skilled orthopedic surgeon, can provide good stability and range of motion, and most of the time it reduces chronic pain. Doctors have been replacing knees for almost 50 years now, if you can believe it, and the technology continues to improve.
3D-imaging is routine and has dramatically improved the standard of care, and robot-assisted surgeries are now the state of the art. Whereas previously reducing chronic pain meant replacing the whole knee, these days we can preserve the “healthy” part of a patient’s knee, while addressing the source of their pain.
Sometimes a total knee is the right choice. Dr. Mark Winchell, now collaborating with OrthoPooler, has performed hundreds of them. Statistics tell us, however, that up to 50% of patients who are recommended for total knee surgery are excellent candidates for a partial knee replacement.
Partial Knee Replacement in Pooler and Savannah
In years past, a partial knee replacement was just a temporary solution. Most patients would eventually require a total knee, and that was just the way of the world. Thanks to advancing technology, however, patients today can expect long-term durability and a knee that feels “normal.”
The Oxford Partial Knee is the most widely-used partial knee in the world. Published clinical results demonstrate a 92.4% survivorship at 10 years, 94.0% at 15 years, and 91% at 20 years. There are no guarantees, of course, as every patient is different and there are any number of variables that affect the life of an implant.
The benefits, however, are potentially great:
- Less Pain
- Faster Recovery
- Preservation of Natural Motion
Why does my knee hurt?
When doctors say that osteoarthritis is a “degenerative” disease, they are talking about the gradual breakdown (over time or because of disease) of the cartilage in the knee. Cartilage has no pain receptors. It sheaths the end of our bones at the joint, glides without friction, and has wonderful cushioning properties that reduce day-to-day stress on our bones.
Think of it as a shock absorber.
Bone, meanwhile, is one of the most metabolically active tissues in the whole body. It has a LOT of pain receptors, as anyone with osteoarthritis or an arthritic hip can tell you.
Most often, non-muscular pain in the knee is caused by bone-on-bone pressure that results when that shock absorber is compromised. The body’s response to that pressure—in addition to pain and swelling and stiffness—is to make more bone in order to alleviate the pressure*. Unfortunately, more bone makes a painful problem worse.
*More bone equals less pressure per square inch.
Preserving Natural Motion in the Knee
During a total knee replacement, your surgeon will cut and then re-attach the stabilizing ligaments (ACL and PCL) in your knee. At that point, it is no longer a “normal” knee. Most patients report instability, maybe some clicking and popping.
For patients with mild arthritis, however, arthritis specific to one side of the joint or the other, a partial knee replacement is often the preferred approach.
There are three “compartments” in the human knee. A “unicondular” or partial knee replacement addresses the effects of osteoarthritis in only the affected compartment. This allows a skilled surgeon like Dr. Winchell to replace just the diseased portion of your knee, preserving your functional anatomy.
Following an MRI, you and your surgeon will determine if a partial knee is appropriate. Recovery time varies, of course, but most patients can expect to spend a night in the hospital, to be walking a week or so post-op, and driving a week after that. (Golf probably not for six weeks.)
Are you a candidate for partial knee replacement? Contact us today to set up an appointment.
As a competitive runner and cyclist, Dr. Mark Winchell’s goal is always to get our patients back in the game, living pain-free, and performing at the level to which they are accustomed. We work with young athletes, with middle-aged men and women who work and play as if they were kids, and with older patients who hope to remain active throughout their golden years.