The knee is the largest joint in our bodies, so knee pain can be immensely painful and debilitating. It affects virtually all physical actions, making it hard to perform daily functions. Many choose to permanently treat the issue with surgery. There are a wide variety of surgical options when it comes to treating knee pain. Most involve replacing inflamed, disfigured, or otherwise useless tissue with artificial replacement material. The invasiveness of the surgery and the severity of recovery is usually correlated to the extent of the original ailment. The origin of the pain could be from a wide variety of things including injury, arthritis, misuse, and disease. Fortunately, there are several different options when it comes to knee replacement surgery.
The least invasive option is called Arthroscopy. The procedure comes with the benefit of smaller incisions, and therefore shorter recovery times. Arthroscopies are usually outpatient procedures that are performed on more minor cases of knee joint disfigurement.
Unicondylar Knee Replacement is slightly more invasive and involves replacing part of the knee with prosthetic joint material, but still has a fairly short recovery time. This surgery is common for anyone whose joint pain stems from an injury, as it usually focuses on a specific part of the knee that is ailed rather than a more general inflammation of the entire joint.
Repairs on the Anterior Cruciate Ligament are necessary in order to restore an athlete’s function. The surgery for this is usually minimally invasive with a low complication rate.
The most severe response to knee pain is a Total Knee Replacement, which involves replacing the entire joint with an artificial metal or plastic prosthetic. This has the longest recovery time out of all of the options, and therefore is almost always a last-resort choice.
Knee pain can be traced back to a variety of conditions. Depending on whether the source is contained to a specific part of the joint, such as a focused injury, or progressive condition, such as arthritis that affects the entirety of the knee, the treatment options vary. Here are the most common reasons people consider knee replacement surgery.
Arthritis is a common condition that causes inflammation in the joints. While it’s most common in older patients, arthritis can affect anybody. Often times, this inflammation is so debilitating that it can prevent you from going about your daily life, and therefore requires professional medical treatment. While most of the time, this journey to healthy knees begins with medicated topical creams and salves, occasionally surgery is needed to remove and replace the inflamed tissue.
Arthritis sourced knee pain is the most common provider for total knee replacement, as the condition usually worsens over time without intervention. The inflamed arthritic joint needs to be switched out altogether, otherwise, the inflammation that arthritis causes will persist in left behind components.
Knee pain is also sometimes the result of a sports injury. One of the most common sports injuries is the tearing of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL, making athletes the most popular candidates for reconstruction surgeries. The injury is most often caused by exerting force on the joint at the wrong angle, so high-speed sports like basketball or football puts athletes at high risk.
Most patients try alternative, non-invasive methods before deciding on a surgical option. These methods include but are not limited to:
· Medications, both topical salves, and oral medications
· Joint supplements to improve tissue health
· Cortisone injections to reduce inflammation
· Physical therapy to try to properly restore function and heal cartilage
· Weight loss to take strain off of the joint
These options often work for less severe or conditional pain. If you’ve tried all of these options and they don’t fix your pain, or if they do fix it, but only temporarily, it may be time to consider the information above and ask your orthopedist about surgical options.
While knee surgery has varying degrees of severity, all options are invasive and should be carefully considered before committing to a particular path. Making that leap is easiest when you have a qualified sports medicine specialist on your side to help inform you about your options. The professional team at The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre is well versed in any knee ailment that you might be suffering from, and they can help you decide how to handle it. Whether it be through a non-invasive treatment such as medication, or a more permanent fix like one of the procedures described here, they are ready to tackle the issue and relieve you of your knee pain.