Your knee joint is the area of your leg in which the thighbone fits neatly onto the shinbone. Your patellofemoral joint is where the kneecap glides on the thighbone. These bony surfaces are covered by hard cartilage, which cushions the bones when you move your knee. If the hard cartilage wears away, the bones can rub against each other, causing pain and stiffness. This is called osteoarthritis.
If arthritis is limiting your everyday activities and you have not been able to manage your pain with medications, cortisone injections, viscosupplementation, braces, or physical therapy, a knee replacement might be an option.
Total Knee Replacement
A knee replacement (arthroplasty) is where the entire joint is replaced with metal and plastic. This is an inpatient surgery, and patients typically stay two to three days in the hospital. Depending on the help you have at home or in your living situation, you may need to go to a skilled nursing facility after surgery. There, you will be provided with daily physical therapy and assisted with everyday tasks like bathing and meals.
Total knee-replacement surgery involves your surgeon making a seven-to-10-inch incision on the front of your knee. Your surgeon will slide and tilt your kneecap to get a visual of the rest of your knee joint and assess the damaged tissue.
The damaged bone and cartilage of the thighbone is removed, resurfaced, and replaced with a metal component. The same thing is done to your shinbone, and the two metal components come together to form your new knee joint. A plastic insert is put between the metal components to absorb force and help your knee glide more naturally. Your kneecap may be smoothed out and flattened before it is returned to its normal position.
Your surgeon will then move your knee around to ensure that proper knee mechanics are achieved. This entire surgery can take between two and four hours.
Recovery from a total knee replacement can take from 12 weeks to six months, with regular follow-up appointments for X-rays and clinical exams until the knee is healed.
After knee-replacement surgery, it is very important to challenge and push yourself each day. Patients can do many exercises to make their recovery more comfortable and help strengthen thigh and leg muscles.
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Partial Knee Replacement
A partial knee replacement is an option for an overwhelming number of patients. At Stevens Point Orthopedics, we offer the Oxford partial knee replacement. Dr. David Henneghan has more years of experience with these types of knee replacements than any other provider in central Wisconsin.
The surgery process is similar for total and partial knee replacement, but the partial replacement can be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting depending upon your health, medical history, and insurance. This means you may or may not spend a night in the hospital.
About 40% of patients with osteoarthritis of their knees are candidates for this procedure. In order to be a candidate for a partial knee replacement, your arthritis must be confined to the front and inside portion of the knee and the ACL must be intact.
This is not a stepping-stone procedure. In fact, after 20 years 91% of patients still have their partial knee replacement and have not progressed to needing a total knee replacement.
Recovery from a partial knee replacement usually takes about three to six months. Individuals with sedentary work realistically can return to work in about two weeks after their procedure. Those returning to more active work may be out six weeks or longer. After a full recovery, patients with a partial knee replacement are able to return to the same motion and function as a normal knee.
Some benefits of the partial knee replacement include:
- Improved range of motion than a total knee replacement
- A partial knee replacement preserves more healthy bone than a total knee replacement
- Better functionality and more natural motion than a total knee replacement
- Faster recovery and shorter hospital stay than a total knee replacement
- Patients are happier with their partial knee replacements than total knee replacement patients
- Once healing has occurred there are no real limitations
- Patients are able to return to their active lifestyle and may resume running, skiing, and other recreational activities