Causes of Chronic Knee Pain
Many knee problems are a result of the aging process and continual wear and stress on the knee joint. Other knee problems are a result of an injury or a sudden movement that strains the knee. Common knee problems include the following:
- A sprained or strained knee ligament or muscle, usually caused by a blow to the knee or a sudden twist of the knee. Symptoms often include pain, swelling, and difficulty in walking.
- Torn cartilage: Trauma to the knee can tear the menisci (pads of connective tissue that act as shock absorbers and enhance stability). Cartilage tears can often occur with sprains. Treatment may involve wearing a brace during an activity to protect the knee from further injury. Surgery may be needed to repair the tear.
- Tendonitis: Inflammation of the tendons may result from overuse of a tendon during certain activities such as running, jumping, or cycling. Tendonitis of the patellar tendon is called jumper's knee. This often occurs with sports such as basketball, where the force of hitting the ground after a jump strains the tendon.
- Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis that affects the knee. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative process where the cartilage in the joint gradually wears away, and often affects middle-age and older people. Osteoarthritis may be caused by excess stress on the joint such as repeated injury or being overweight.
- Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the knees by causing the joint to become inflamed and by destroying the knee cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis often affects persons at an earlier age than osteoarthritis.
Non-Surgical Treatment for Knee Pain
For knee patients with arthritis, the experts at Cooper's Bone And Joint Institute offer non-operative care, injection therapies, and arthroscopic techniques.
Unicompartment (Partial) Knee Replacement
Unicompartmental knee replacement is an option for a small percentage of patients with advanced osteoarthritis confined to a single part (compartment) of the knee. Patients who qualify for this surgery have exhausted all non-surgical treatment options.
Advantages of Partial Knee Replacement
Multiple studies have shown that unicompartmental knee replacement performs very well in the majority of patients who are appropriate candidates.
The advantages of partial knee replacement over total knee replacement include:
- Quicker recovery
- Less pain after surgery
- Less blood loss
- Patients have reported that they experience a “normal” range of motion faster with a unicompartmental knee replacement compared to a total knee replacement
Disadvantages of Partial Knee Replacement
The disadvantages of partial knee replacement compared with total knee replacement include slightly less predictable pain relief and the potential need for more surgery at a later time.
Total Knee Replacement
Understanding the procedure
Total knee replacement surgery can be performed traditionally or by using what is considered a minimally-invasive technique. The main difference between the two procedures is the size of the incision.
During a standard knee replacement, a large incision (cut) is made down the front of the knee. The damaged surfaces from the ends of the thigh bone (femur), the shin bone (tibia), and the underside of the kneecap (patella) are removed, reshaped, and resurfaced with the artificial parts, which are cemented into place. The new knee consists of metal implants on the ends of the shin bone and thigh bone, and a plastic implant under the kneecap.
Indications for Total Knee Replacement
Knee replacement is typically used for people with knee joint damage from arthritis or an injury that causes progressively worsening pain and limits work, recreation, and the ordinary activities of daily living.
Knee replacement is a surgical procedure to replace all or part of the worn, diseased, or damaged surfaces in the knee joint with new artificial parts (prosthesis) made of metal and plastic. The artificial parts are designed to be flexible, strong and durable, and to move like a normal knee thus alleviating pain and restoring mobility. It is usually considered a last resort when all other treatment options have failed.
Most people who have knee replacements are over age 55, but the procedure is also offered to younger people with knee degeneration if their quality of life is severely affected.
When Total Knee Replacement Surgery Is Recommended
There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend knee replacement surgery. People who benefit from total knee replacement often have:
- A knee that has become bowed as a result of severe arthritis. Severe knee pain or stiffness that limits your everyday activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of chairs. You may find it hard to walk more than a few blocks without significant pain and you may need to use a cane or walker
- Moderate or severe knee pain while resting, either day or night
- Chronic knee inflammation and swelling that does not improve with rest or medications
- Knee deformity — a bowing in or out of your knee
- Failure to substantially improve with other treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, lubricating injections, physical therapy, or other surgeries
Candidates for Total Knee Replacement Surgery
There are no absolute age or weight restrictions for total knee replacement surgery.
Recommendations for surgery are based on a patient's pain and disability, not age. Most patients who undergo total knee replacement are age 50 to 80, but orthopaedic surgeons evaluate patients individually. Total knee replacements have been performed successfully at all ages, from the young teenager with juvenile arthritis to the elderly patient with degenerative arthritis.
Custom Knee Replacement
VISIONAIRE Patient Matched instruments help your surgeon achieve more optimal implant alignment, custom to your unique knee anatomy.
Your orthopaedic surgeon will scan MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and X-ray images of your affected leg into an advanced web-based software program, which will generate virtual images of your knee. Surgical instruments and guides are then designed and built, mapping out specific bone cuts to accurately align the implant to your knee.
Because VISIONAIRE technology removes multiple steps from the traditional surgical technique, your time under anesthesia may be reduced. This may lead to less blood loss and a lower risk of infection.
VISIONAIRE Patient Matched instruments allow your surgeon to achieve precise alignment of your knee, potentially reducing wear – a leading cause of early implant failure.
Customized VISIONAIRE◊ instruments enable a less invasive surgical procedure which can reduce soft tissue and muscle damage which may speed your recovery time.
A knee implant accurately aligned with the VISIONAIRE system may not only feel more natural, but may also last longer than traditional knee replacements. Even a slightly misaligned implant can cause uneven implant wear, loosening and instability, which can contribute to early implant failure and follow-up surgeries.
You may be able to take less pain medication for a shorter time with minimally-invasive surgery. By reducing the amount of muscle and soft tissue damage, you’ll have a smaller scar and experience less pain during recovery.
For an appointment with a knee specialist at Cooper's Bone and Joint Institute, call 800.8.COOPER (800.826.6737).