When you’ve tried everything else – medication, injections, physical therapy – and your knee is still bothering you, your orthopedic doctor may recommend knee replacement surgery to treat your painful condition.
There are two types of surgical options: total knee replacement (TKR) and partial knee replacement (PKR).
For roughly 50 years, total knee replacement has been the traditional and most common method to repair a damaged knee. The procedure has improved significantly over time, with more precise and highly functional artificial knee implants becoming the norm. These practically clone the movement of a human knee and are customized to fit your anatomy.
Total Knee Replacement (TKR)
What happens during a TKR is that your surgeon removes the bones that have been damaged and replaces the knee with an artificial implant. Using special surgical instruments, the surgeon trims away the damaged cartilage surfaces at the ends of the femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone), including a small portion of the underlying bone. The doctor then positions the metal tibial and femoral implants, either cementing them to the bone or press-fitting them, so that the remaining bone in your knee can grow into them, organically securing the implant. Next, a plastic patellar (kneecap) button is inserted and finally, the surgeon implants a medical grade plastic spacer between the metal components so that they move smoothly, mimicking the motion of a real knee.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 90 percent of patients who have had TKR surgery report a major reduction in knee pain, along with improved mobility. In fact, most are able to resume normal daily activities. However, high-impact activities such as running should be avoided after TKR to ensure that the implant will last for many years.
Partial Knee Replacement (PKR)
A partial knee replacement is an option most suitable for younger patients who have plenty of healthy bone remaining and who lead an active lifestyle. However, because of their youth, they may require a follow-up procedure when their first implant wears out in approximately 15 or 20 years. It is also appropriate for older folks who aren’t as active.
The purpose of a PKR is to repair and preserve as much healthy bone and soft tissue as possible. For example, if you have osteoarthritis in only one compartment of your knee, there’s no need to remove the whole knee. Consequently, during a PKR, your surgeon only removes the arthritic portion and replaces it with metal and plastic components.
The advantages of PKR surgery include less trauma and post-operative pain, a shorter hospital stay, and faster recovery and rehabilitation periods – usually no more than six weeks, which is about half the recovery time for a TKR.
As with any kind of surgery, TKR and PKR have certain risks that your surgeon will discuss with you before your procedure. There are also numerous approaches to knee replacement surgery – including traditional, minimally invasive, lateral, quadriceps-sparing, and computer-assisted – that you and your doctor may consider finding the one that’s best for your specific condition.
If you are suffering from joint pain, you may benefit from any number of treatments and physical therapies. Call the specialists at Movement Orthopedics at (586) 436-3785 for more information about our comprehensive services, or to schedule a consultation.