partial knee replacement
17 Oct

What to Expect with a Partial Knee Replacement

Here’s What to Expect with a Partial Knee Replacement

Guidelines and Expectations of a Partial Knee Replacement Surgery

About one out of every five Americans will get knee arthritis at some point in their lives. There are a lot of ways to deal with the pain and disability that can come with this condition, both without surgery and with surgery. Total knee replacement is the most common surgery for knee arthritis in its later stages. Partial knee replacement, on the other hand, is an option for some people with arthritis in only one part of the knee.

What is Partial Knee Replacement Surgery?

In a partial knee replacement, the bone surfaces of only one compartment of the knee joint are removed and replaced with implants. In a total knee replacement, however, the bone surfaces of more than one compartment are removed and replaced with implants. It is a common way to treat arthritis in unicompartmental arthritis. 

When a person has unicompartmental knee arthritis, the cartilage wears down in only one part or compartment of the knee. If nonsurgical treatments don’t help, surgeons can remove only the damaged cartilage and bone in the diseased area, preserving the ligaments that help hold the knee joint together.

The damaged part of the knee is replaced with an implant, which may also be called a prosthesis. The other parts of the knee stay the same. Improvements in surgical techniques and tools have made partial knee replacement a better option for more and more patients. Recent data suggests that anywhere from 10% to 25% of all people with osteoarthritis of the knee who need knee replacement surgery may be eligible for the procedure.

Who Can Benefit from a Partial Knee Replacement?

Partially replacing the knee with Knee Surgery is right for people with arthritis that is limited to one part of the knee, and it is usually only done on people who are not struggling with morbid obesity, which is a BMI greater than 40. The surgery is not a good choice for people whose knees are very stiff or who have a lot of angular deformity issues. Most of the time, a patient must have knee ligaments that are still strong to be a candidate. For example, people who have an untreated torn ACL and want a partial knee replacement are often not considered, and people with rheumatoid arthritis of the knee may not be candidates either, since inflammatory arthritis usually affects the whole joint.

Each case is looked at individually, and the surgeon and patient decide together if partial knee replacement is the best way to treat the issue. One of the most important things to do to make sure a partial knee replacement works well and lasts a long time is to choose the right patient. Since it causes less trauma than a total knee replacement, this surgery is sometimes chosen for people over 80, even if they don’t meet all of the requirements due to their recovery capabilities. 

What Happens During a Partial Knee Replacement?

During a partial knee replacement, the orthopedic surgeon makes a small cut to get to the part of the knee that needs to be fixed. He or she gently moves the knee’s supporting structures out of the way and removes damaged cartilage and bone tissue from the tibia and femur where arthritis is present. The surgeon then prepares these surfaces for the insertion of the prosthesis components, which are specifically sized for each patient’s joint.

What Are the Risks of a Partial Knee Replacement?

Knee replacement is a common surgery, and most people don’t have any problems with it. But, like any operation, this one has both risks and benefits. Rarely, things can go wrong, below are some risks associated with this treatment:

  • Stiffness in the knee
  • Infection in the wound
  • Infection in the joint replacement, which may create the need for another surgery
  • Unexpected bleeding into the knee joint
  • Damage to the ligament, artery, or nerves in the area around the knee joint
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Pain in the knee that doesn’t go away
  • A bone break around the knee replacement during or after the surgery

In some cases, the new knee joint may not be completely stable, and it may be necessary to have more surgery to fix it, or possibly replace parts again. 

What to Expect After Partial Knee Replacement Surgery

You should expect to feel some pain after surgery, but because a partial knee replacement is not as invasive as a total knee replacement, the pain should be bearable. Many people take pain pills by mouth on and off for a few weeks, but most patients say the pain is mild or manageable.

For pain control and antibiotics, it’s best to stay in the hospital overnight after the surgery, but most people can walk the next day. Physical therapy is an important part of getting better, and it starts almost as soon as surgery is over.

Rehab will help you build up the muscles in your knee and get you moving again. After you get better, you might be able to do everyday things and more with less or no pain like biking, hiking, and dancing. How long it will take you to walk on your own, get back to your normal life, and go back to work depends on how well your rehab program goes and how healthy you are. The faster you get your strength and movement back, the better you do with your rehab exercises.

Getting Treatment at Ortho Health of KC

Do you have more questions about whether or not a partial knee replacement is right for you? Fill out our appointment form here, and book your consultation today, or give us a call at (816)561-3003. Learn more about some of our top knee specialists:

Categories: Knee & Leg