Understanding the knee compartments
The knee is made up of three compartments: the inside, outside, and front of the knee. A condition like arthritis leads to deterioration in the knee compartments. Sometimes, the deterioration occurs in only one knee compartment. Or, all the knee compartments may be affected.
What happens during a knee replacement?
In a knee replacement, the surgeon removes the damaged parts of the knee and replaces the area with prosthetic parts. The surgeon may do this in only one knee compartment, known as a partial joint replacement. Or the surgeon may do this to all three knee compartments, known as a total knee replacement.
Am I a good candidate for a partial replacement?
Good candidates for a partial knee replacement include those who only have damage in one knee compartment. People who have damage throughout the knee will not benefit from a partial replacement and will require a full one. Some patients prefer partial knee replacements because the knee may feel more natural if the patient’s own bone and cartilage are still in place.
Cons of partial replacements
The big drawback of a partial replacement is that patients run a risk of needing additional surgery in the future. Especially with a progressive condition like arthritis, meaning it gets worse over time, future surgery is a big risk. The arthritis may progress into and damage parts of the knee that were not previously affected.
When should I choose a total replacement?
The choice between a total and partial replacement should be made jointly between the patient and surgeon. Patients who have severe damage or deterioration will likely be advised to have a total knee replacement. The good news is that knee replacement surgeries have exceptionally high patient satisfaction scores. And with the technology available today, many people recover quickly from the surgery with no need for intense pain medication like opioids.
Choose pain relief
For many patients, a knee replacement is a chance to live an active life again. In fact, many people who have a knee replacement later report regretting not getting the operation sooner. For more information about joint replacement options for arthritic knee pain, speak with a healthcare provider.