When knee pain and dysfunction cause ongoing suffering or inactivity, knee replacement surgery may be the best option. Many people have heard of partial knee replacement, also known as unicompartmental knee replacement, but what’s the difference between it and total knee replacement, and who’s a candidate?
Unlike a total replacement, the partial knee procedure involves replacing only one part, or compartment, of the damaged knee, and is good for people who suffer from damage in only the inside (medial), outside (lateral) or front (patellofemoral) area of the knee. By replacing only the damaged section of knee, the remaining healthy cartilage and bone remain undisturbed, lessening trauma and speeding recovery time.
For people whose damage is isolated, unicompartmental knee replacement has shown to perform quite well and provide a faster recovery with less postoperative pain and a more natural feel than total replacement. The trouble is that osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear and tear, injury and aging, typically affects the entire knee and not just one compartment. Partial knee replacement requires knee ligaments to be strong and intact, eliminating many patients from eligibility.
“Partial knee replacement is an excellent option for certain patients,” says orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Andrew Huntt. “What’s important is knowing if you’re a good candidate, which requires an expert evaluation from a reputable orthopaedic doctor. Otherwise, you may just be postponing a total knee replacement, and there are better, less invasive ways to do that.”
“It’s an excellent procedure, but for only a relatively small percentage of patients. It's important to get the right diagnosis in the right patient before the surgery” adds Dr. Mario John.
Both partial and total knee replacement surgery require a hospital stay and physical therapy to strengthen the knee and restore range of motion. The good news is that most people report having far less pain than they did before surgery, and are able to resume normal activities in about 6 weeks.
To find out if partial knee replacement might be an option to relieve your knee pain and get you back to active living, contact FMI for an appointment.