Knee pain can be caused by several things, including injury. If you have been experiencing extreme discomfort in your knee for a substantial amount of time and the pain cannot be controlled by over-the-counter medications, then it may be time to schedule an appointment with a physician.

Through the course of our lives, our knees begin to degrade. The cartilage becomes worn and the pain that you are experiencing could be chronic, meaning long-lasting. Pain could be caused by an knee injury, but typically this condition results from normal, everyday wear and tear, which makes knee replacement surgery most common for people over 40 years of age.

If the discomfort is severe enough to wake you up at night or limit your everyday movement, you may need a knee replacement.  If surgery is required to repair the knee and ease your pain, then the next step is to determine whether a full or partial knee replacement is needed. Knee replacement surgery is a safe and effective procedure to relieve pain, correct leg deformity, and help you resume normal activities.

Total Knee Replacement

Total knee replacement surgery resurfaces the lower end of the thighbone (femur) and upper end of the shinbone (tibia) so that there is no longer bone rubbing on bone. It is performed by opening the knee and removing the damaged part of the cartilage. The cartilage is then replaced with a metal or plastic implant. This surgery is 98 percent effective as well as the most common surgery performed on the joints.

People who have had the surgery are, in general, very happy with how well their knee feels after their knee replacement. Most people find they are able to resume their daily activities and go back to the activities that they have had to give up as a result of their knee pain.

In general patients stay in the hospital for two days. Some people go home the next day and some require three days, but the average is around two days.

People heal at different rates, so recovery time after a total knee replacement varies. One can expect to need rest and rehabilitation for approximately three to six months after surgery. Typically, short-term recovery takes six to 12 weeks, and you should be able to walk, unaided, with your pain controlled by over-the-counter medications.

For long-term recovery, one can expect to regain total knee function in six to 12 months. Of course, this is approximate and with the addition of physical therapy and plenty of rest, the recovery rate is accelerated.

Patient-specific Total Knee Replacement

Patient specific knee replacement is considered “top of the line” in terms of knee replacement surgery. An MRI image of your knee is sent to the manufacturer that your surgeon has selected to provide your new implant. The scan is used to custom design the plastic or metal replacement that fits your knee, resulting in the most accurate cut and fit for the knee replacement. Otherwise, this step is performed in the operating room at the time of the surgery. Because the new replacement is patient-specific, the implant may last longer and you are less likely to experience other common post-surgery issues such as problems with alignment.

Partial Knee Replacement

The knee is composed of three compartments. Total knee replacement surgery is performed to remove and replace all of the arthritic cartilage, which is the part causing the consistent and debilitating pain, in all three compartments. However, if the arthritis is localized to just one place in the knee, then a partial knee replacement may be a better option.

There are many advantages to having a partial knee replacement as opposed to a full knee replacement. First, it’s less invasive and a much more conservative approach. Doctors can make smaller incisions to replace the damage of one compartment rather than removing and replacing all of the cartilage in the entire knee. As a result, the recovery rate is much shorter, allowing for some to walk out of the hospital the day of surgery and be almost fully mobile in four to six weeks. However, for recovery to be fully effective, it’s necessary to discuss the proper protocol with your doctor.

The orthopedic surgeons at Longstreet Clinic specialize in joint replacements, including the knee. We use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible, and are experienced in assessing knee pain and will be able to properly determine the next course of action. All joint replacement surgeries are performed at Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s state-of-the-art North Patient Tower. Questions? Contact us online or call us at 678-207-4100.

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