Partial Knee Replacement…….New Options for Active Lifestyles
“If you build it, they will come.” Technical advances in joint replacement devices are advancing at a rapid pace….just in time for the Baby Boomers and their not so youthful joints. A successful new procedure provides an option for knee replacement surgery – the partial knee replacement or unicompartmental arthroplasty. It is an excellent option for people with osteoarthritis in just one part of the knee. During surgery, only the damaged joint section is replaced. The remaining healthy cartilage and bone in the knee is left alone.Basically, there are two types of partial knee replacements – fixed and mobile. In the fixed device, a metal plate is placed on the end of the thigh leg (femur) and plastic on the end of the shin bone (tibia). The mobile version consists of metal on the ends of both the femur and tibia with a plastic pad inbetween. Mobile partial knee replacements allow more strenous activity after surgery. They have a 91% success rate for patients under 60 years old and 96% success for patients over 60 years old.
As with all surgery, there are pros and cons. The pros of a partial knee replacement are quicker recovery time, less pain after surgery, less blood loss…..and a more “natural” feeling than a total knee replacement. The main drawback is that a future total knee replacement may be necessary if the current healthy bone and cartilage develop severe arthritis.
The procedure is not for everyone. If you have chronic inflammation, significant knee stiffness, or ligament damage, this may not be the right surgery for you. Success is not related to age – excellent results have been noted in both young and older people. Selection is based on your medical history, a physical exam, an MRI and other tests.
After surgery patients can expect to have physical therapy 2 – 3 times a week to regain full movement and strength. Another component is to help you develop a normal walking pattern again. Often, pre-surgery, people develop compensatory habits to avoid normal weight bearing on the painful knee. As you recover, your brain remembers these habits. Even though your pain is gone, people often return to these altered habits. Therapy is designed to ensure you return to your very own personal walking style.
Dr. John Lynch, an orthopedic surgeon at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital in Massachusetts, recently began performing customized partial knee replacement surgery – another postive innovation in joint replacement surgery. After this procedure, patients begin walking the night following surgery, putting some weight on their affected leg. They usually go home the following day with a walker or cane. Patients follow a physical therapy regime for a few weeks to regain mobility and strength. Most patients resume their regular activity level within 6 weeks after surgery. Dr. Lynch uses customized implants. After screening for partial knee replacement surgery, Dr. Lynch sends a patient to have a CT scan of their knee. That image is then used to create a 3-D model of their knee. An implant is then designed and manufactured specifically for that patient. Dr. Lynch’s program is reporting a 99 percent satisfaction rate. More information can be found at www.hallmarkhealth.org
Exercise combined with joint replacement surgery provides new options for active lifestyles. Keep moving.
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