Total knee replacement surgery is a procedure that involves removing the surfaces of the knee joint and replacing them with an artificial implant. This type of surgery typically becomes an option for patients who have severe joint damage that does not respond to conservative treatments such as physical therapy, corticosteroid injections and lifestyle changes. Knee replacements are effective in relieving symptoms and improving function for a number of conditions and injuries that cause severe joint damage.
Knee pain can be an extremely frustrating problem to live with if it becomes chronic. People can find themselves unable to perform their job or accomplish basic activities around the house. Favorite sports and hobbies that once brought fulfillment can become painful and frustrating. Often, relationships can be negatively affected as well, leading to a downward spiral for quality of life.
While some people are able to successfully relieve pain related to a knee injury or chronic condition, often the underlying causes can be progressive in nature. This means that treatments that were once effective may no longer offer relief, especially as joint damage worsens. If you are in this situation, you are not alone. One of the best you can do is educate yourself as a patient so you can work more closely with your physician and other treatment professionals.
Whether you are researching potential causes of knee pain before meeting with a doctor or you have been diagnosed, we hope the following overview of common knee injury or conditions treated by total knee replacement surgery can help.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about your treatment options, don’t hesitate to reach out. The OJRCA is here to help you on your journey toward lasting relief.
1. Osteoarthritis of the knee
Osteoarthritis is by far the most common underlying cause of total knee replacement procedures. Each year millions of people are diagnosed with this condition that can affect any joint and is related to the natural aging process.
As our joints rub against each other during normal movement, they are protected by a layer of joint cartilage and lubricated by synovial fluid. This helps reduce friction and enables smooth movement.
However, as a result of the natural aging process, the joint cartilage begins to wear out and the joint fluid changes and is less of an effective lubricant. This eventually leads to increased bone on bone contact and joint inflammation that is the telltale sign of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis of the knee is a frequently occurring form of this condition, due to the high amount of stress our knees endure combined with lifestyle factors like weight gain and prior injuries. Patients with knee arthritis often report the following symptoms:
- Pain and aches
- Locking and grinding in the knee
- Stiffness and swelling
- Reduced range of motion
Over time, the inflammation can lead to bone deformity, abnormal growth, loss of joint space and other damage that can further worsen symptoms. If conservative options are no longer able to relieve pain, total knee replacement procedures are a common recommendation by surgeons.
2. Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Knee
Rheumatoid arthritis is another common form of arthritis and it s an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack healthy joint tissue, causing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is more often present in both knees.
The first line of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is specialized treatments, including prescription anti-rheumatic drugs, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy and modifying activities. However, similar to osteoarthritis, a physician will typically recommend total knee replacement surgery in cases where there is noticeable damage to one or both knees. Partial knee replacement is not typically an option due to the autoimmune nature of this disease.
3. Knee Fractures
Knee fractures can happen as a result of traumatic injuries, sports injuries or even repetitive motion injuries. A knee replacement procedure is almost never a first line treatment for a fracture in or around the knee, but there are cases where a fracture can lead to long-term, irreversible joint damage in the knee.
The term for this condition is known as post-traumatic arthritis, which is a secondary form of osteoarthritis. In these situations, injuries such as fractures can basically speed up joint degeneration that occurs naturally. This can cause symptoms to develop years after an initial injury, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause.
If a surgeon determines that there is sufficient joint damage due to the injury and conservative treatments are not effective, a total knee replacement can be the most effective treatment option.
4. Cartilage damage and fragments
Another cause of post-traumatic arthritis is cartilage damage. Traumatic injuries can lead to torn knee cartilage, as well as the formation of loose fragments that can become suspended in the joint space.
Similar to fractures, cartilage tears and fragments can speed up the natural degenerative process in the knee joint. This can make arthritis develop early in a patient, or worsen it if already present. Once again, if joint damage progresses to a point where nonsurgical options are not effective, the best course of action may be a total knee replacement.
5. Ligament tears
This is yet another knee injury that can lead to post-traumatic arthritis and the need for total knee replacement surgery to relieve pain. The bones in the knee are connected by several ligaments, including the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Due to sudden strenuous movements or collisions, especially in sports, injuries to this ligament and other ligaments are becoming more common.
Typically, for ACL tears, the first line of surgical treatment is ligament repair surgery. However, in cases where the tears do not heal properly or there are complications with healing, it can lead to post-traumatic arthritis and joint damage, especially due to changes in knee movement. Like other knee injuries that cause delayed joint damage, the symptoms may not develop until years after the injury.
Learn More About Minimally Invasive Knee Replacement Surgery
Traditional total knee replacement surgeries can sometimes be undesirable due to the large incision and extended hospital stay. Fortunately the continuing development of surgical technology and orthopedic techniques have led to the development of minimally invasive total knee replacement that can be performed in an outpatient setting. This offers patients a shorter recovery time, reduced surgical scarring and reduced risk of infection associated with a hospital stay.
If you’re suffering from chronic knee pain and conservative measures aren’t effective to manage your symptoms, please call OJRCA. Our experienced team is here to sit down with you, provide a full evaluation, and discuss all treatment options with you. If you have any questions at all about our methods, procedures, or pain protocols, ask away! At OJRCA, we treat every patient like family.
We’ve found that in over 80-90% of cases, total joint replacement surgery performed as an outpatient is proven as a safe AND better choice for patients with advanced arthritis. Call us at 813-492-4412 or reach out online.