Board certified Orthopedic Surgeon Aniefiok Uyoe, MD, has consulted with many patients suffering from knee pain and interested in joint replacement surgery, and he’s noticed a trend. “There seems to be a common misconception that partial knee replacement is a new cutting-edge procedure that offers patients who would otherwise require total replacement a more minimally invasive, less traumatic option, but with similar results. The idea of only having to replace a portion of the knee rather than the entire joint sounds very promising to many patients, but in reality it’s a procedure that’s been around for a very long time, and is just not a viable long-term option for most people suffering from knee pain.”
Partial vs. Full Replacement – Which is the Best Choice?
The most common cause of knee pain in adults is arthritis, a slowly progressive degenerative disease in which the cartilage, a type of tissue that provides cushioning between the bones of the joint, gradually wears away, allowing bare bones to rub against each other. Besides pain, the condition also commonly causes a variety of deformities within the knee joint. When conventional therapies such as weight loss, activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy don’t alleviate pain, joint replacement may be necessary.
Partial Knee Joint Replacement
“I’ve found that many patients ask for partial knee replacements up front because they’re under the impression that partial replacement is less invasive and allows for greater activity post-surgery than total knee replacement. That is definitely not the case. The vast majority of patients are actually not ideal candidates for partial replacement and won’t experience the best results with it. Knowing the facts before making your decision is key to ensuring a good long-term result.”
Aniefiok Uyoe, MD
Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon
Floyd Memorial Orthopedic Group
The knee is made up of three compartments; the medial, lateral and patellofemoral. If arthritis is contained to only one compartment of the knee, and the other two are otherwise healthy, partial knee replacement may be a possible option, since it only replaces the diseased portion and allows the other portions of natural joint to stay intact.
Dr. Uyoe explained, “The procedure involves removing the arthritic portion of the knee and replacing it with an anatomically shaped implant that is designed to work in conjunction with the rest of the natural joint. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the longevity of a partial implant depends greatly on the patient’s activity level. Since the durability and survivorship of partial replacements have not historically met that of total knee replacements, ideal candidates for partials are usually elderly and live a sedentary, non-active lifestyle. Partial replacement is not recommended for patients who are young and/or hope to live an active lifestyle after surgery.”
“Weight and joint anatomy are also key factors. Partial knee replacement patients on average should weigh less than 200 pounds and have no knee joint deformity, since irregularities in the joint can affect the success of the implant. But for the right patient, it’s an excellent option that can yield the results the patient desires with reduced post-operative pain, typically smaller incision sizes, and a somewhat shorter rehabilitation period than total replacement.”
Total Knee Joint Replacement
Total knee replacement involves removing the entire arthritic or damaged joint and replacing it with an artificial implant. “Since most patients exceed the 200 pound weight limit, have arthritis throughout the knee or joint deformities as a result of their condition, and hope to regain an active lifestyle after surgery, total knee replacement is the best option for a greater number of people,” added Dr. Uyoe. “I’m a huge advocate of patients understanding their condition and knowing what their recovery goals are long-term before they make a decision about joint replacement. Many people are concerned with incision length and scarring, but I try to help them understand that a good long-term result that allows them to be pain free and get back to the activities they enjoy is the real goal. Incision length isn’t nearly as important as a positive result.”
Partial vs. Full Knee Replacement – Which is Best for You?
Knee Replacement Criteria
Partial Knee Replacement
- Sedentary, non-active lifestyle
- Weight of less than 200 pounds
- Elderly in age
- Absence of knee joint deformity
- Arthritis in only one of the three compartments of the knee
Full Knee Replacement
- Active lifestyle or hopes to return to one
- All age groups
- Injury or disease throughout the joint
Wednesday, August 11, 8:30 am – Noon Featuring physical exams by Dr. Uyoe.
Tuesday, July 29 and Thursday, September 2, 6 – 7 pm
Free Joint Pain Screening
Saturday, August 28, 7 am – Noon Featuring X-rays of the knee, hip or shoulder, and an orthopedic surgeon consultation.
Registration required for all events. For more information, see the Calendar of Events.