The CDC (CDC.gov) reports 719,000 total knee replacement (TKR) surgeries were performed in the U.S. in 2014. As the Baby Boomer population gets older, they strive to stay active and independent. Many choose TKR for relief of pain due to osteoarthritis in one or both knees, so that pain doesn’t interfere with their ability to continue to work or enjoy their retirement. However, TKR is not for everyone, as not all chronic knee pain is related to osteoarthritis. Also, not all arthritic knees require total replacement. When faced with knee pain, there are other options for patients to discuss with their Orthopedic Specialist.
Partial Knee Replacement
In many cases, osteoarthritis is limited to the inner side of the knee. When knee surgery is required, surgeons can opt for a partial replacement. This is a simpler procedure than TKR; a smaller incision, less recovery time, less bruising, and better overall range of motion are benefits of choosing partial knee replacement over TKR when possible.
This procedure, often referred to as Kneecap Replacement, is for those who suffer osteoarthritis on the underside of the knee as opposed to the knee joint. Unlike the name implies, it does not truly replace the kneecap. Rather, the surface under the kneecap is replaced, along with its groove which is called the trochlea.
Knee arthroscopy is best defined as a minimally invasive surgery, in that small cuts are made near the knee for the purpose of a surgeon to insert a camera and instruments into the area for diagnosis and repair. When knee pain is due to an injury to the meniscus, which is the main cartilage in the knee, ligaments such as the ACL, or tissue called plica, tissues can be repaired or removed with arthroscopy. Most conditions treated with arthroscopy are soft tissue related injuries or syndromes.
It is always important to speak to an orthopedic specialist about options before deciding on a surgical procedure. All carry a list of risks and benefits, and many conditions causing knee pain can be treated with non-surgical methods.