If your knees are injured you may find yourself giving up activities you love, like playing on the floor with your children, climbing stairs, or even standing up may become a challenge. Knee pain from a past injury, or the gradual wear and tear of arthritis can keep you on the sidelines and derail your active lifestyle.
Orthopedic surgeons treat the knee more than any other joint. In fact, knees are among the most easily injured joints. As the largest joints in your body, they take a good deal of abuse. Walking, running, and bicycling can take a toll on your knees. Sports such as football, basketball, baseball, and soccer can be particularly tough on knees as well. Here at Spine and Orthopedic Center of New Mexico we are dedicated to returning people with knee pain to their active lives. We work with you hands-on to restore your quality of life, managing medications and physical therapy, and offering the most advanced minimally invasive surgery.
You may be treated non-surgically. However, if medications, changing your activity level, and using walking supports are no longer helpful, you may want to consider partial or total knee replacement surgery. By resurfacing your knee’s damaged and worn surfaces, total knee replacement surgery can relieve your pain, correct your leg deformity, and help you resume your normal activities. You and your orthopedic surgeon would make a joint decision on whether a knee replacement would best fit your needs.
Knee Arthroplasty (Knee Replacement)
Knee Arthroplasty is commonly performed to relieve pain and disability. It is recommended when the pain of meniscus tears, osteoarthritis, cartilage defects, and ligament tears becomes too debilitating.
Knee Arthroplasty is Major Surgery
Prior to surgery, pre-operative tests must be performed.
- A complete blood count, electrolytes, APTT and PT to measure blood clotting, chest x-rays, ECG, and blood cross-matching for possible transfusion.
- Precise x-rays of the affected knee are needed to measure the size of components which will be needed.
- Medications such as warfarin and aspirin will be stopped some days before surgery to reduce the amount of bleeding. Patients may be admitted on the day of surgery if the pre-op work-up is done in the pre-anesthetic clinic, or may come into hospital one or more days before surgery.
- Crutches or walkers are required until the quadriceps muscle has healed and recovered its strength. Continuous Passive Motion, or CPM, is commonly used.
- Postoperative hospitalization averages one day to a week. This depends on the health status of the patient and the amount of support available outside the hospital setting.
- Full range of motion is recovered over the first two weeks. At 6 weeks people have usually progressed to full weight bearing with a cane. Complete recovery from the operation involving return to full normal function may take three months, and some patients notice a gradual improvement lasting many months longer than that.
Partial Knee Resurfacing or Replacement
As an alternative to total knee replacement surgery, Spine and Orthopedic Center of New Mexico offers partial knee resurfacing. The surgeon targets the diseased area of the knee without affecting the surrounding normal, healthy cartilage. Through a tiny incision of only 2-3 inches, the diseased part of the knee is removed and replaced with orthopedic implants.
The knee is generally divided into three compartments including the medial (inside), lateral (outside), and patellofemoral (joint between kneecap and thighbone). Most patients with severe arthritis have significant wear in two or more compartments. For them, total knee replacement is the best treatment. The rest – about 10 to 30 percent of candidates — have wear confined mostly to one compartment, especially the media. These may be candidates for partial knee replacement.
Partial knee replacements have 2-3” incisions compared to 8-9” incisions for total knee replacements. Other advantages include easier post-op rehabilitation, shorter hospital stays, less blood loss, lower risks of infection, stiffness, and blood clots.
Most patients return to normal activities within six to eight weeks. Recovery periods vary by the extent of the surgery. The doctor may send you home with orthopedic braces that you will wear until you have fully healed.