The 5 Major Types of Knee Surgery
Many Problems, Many Solutions
Knee problems represent some of the most common medical ailments we face today. In the US, around 100 million suffer from chronic pain due to conditions like knee osteoarthritis, ACL tear, or other injury, and nearly one third of Americans suffer with some issue there at some point in their lives.  In many cases, surgery ends up being the most viable treatment option.
But knee surgeries vary a great deal depending on the condition they’re treating. Furthermore, there are differences in terms of scope and intensity. Since it’s important for patients to understand as much as possible about potential treatments, here’s a quick rundown of the five major types of knee surgery:
1. Total Knee Replacement
A treatment for advanced cases of knee arthritis, total knee replacement, also known as “total knee arthroplasty,” involves surgically resurfacing the damaged knee joint with a long-lasting prosthetic. After damaged bone and cartilage is removed from the bones, metal implants are placed into position above and below the joint, and a plastic spacer is put in to allow functionality. While there is a significant period of recovery, usually about three months, most patients are even able to walk the same day of the procedure. Notably, 95 percent of implants are still functional after 15 years. 
2. Partial Knee Replacement
Also referred to as “unicompartmental knee replacement,” partial knee replacement involves the removal and resurfacing of damaged bone and cartilage areas.  A common treatment for several forms of knee arthritis, this approach differentiates itself from total knee replacement because only a portion of the joint is resurfaced, and it’s best for less advanced or widespread cases. In addition, since it’s less-invasive hospital-stay and recovery are significantly shorter, with full recovery expected at around four to six weeks.
3. Knee Arthroscopy
A method of both diagnosis and treatment, knee arthroscopy allows doctors to fully assess the knee joint using a specialized camera that can be inserted to the area via a small incision. Using real-time video information, surgeons can fully investigate the scope of damage to the area, and, when needed, use specialized instrument to make repairs or remove damaged tissues.  The benefits of such an approach are that it can take on a wide-variety of conditions and it’s easily tolerated. This means less pain, less stiffness, and swift recovery: only about six weeks.
4. Knee Cartilage Transplant
The meniscus is the c-shaped cartilage at the front of the knee, and it can often become injured or torn. In extreme cases, this can become so badly damaged that it won’t be able to heal itself properly. Without this essential part, arthritis and persistent knee pain result. While total or partial knee replacement is often indicated for older people, those younger than 55 may opt for this alternative, in which this part is replaced with donor cartilage.  While it doesn’t help people who already have arthritis in the knee, it’s a viable and successful option for others. As with other treatments, recovery is expected within six weeks.
5. ACL Reconstruction
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is found in the front of the knee, with injury to it being tremendously debilitating and painful. Damage here varies in scope and is often accompanied by injury to surrounding anatomical features. In ACL reconstruction, torn ligament is removed and replaced with tendon material from another part of the knee (or, in some cases, another donor).  While it’s relatively minimally invasive, recovery is extensive, given the importance and essential nature of the work: patients are expected to be back to normal anywhere from six to nine months.
Bending Better, Feeling Better
The choice of which procedure is needed and will offer the best results is ultimately up to the patient and doctor. And while taking on knee problems is never easy, the good news is that treatments nowadays are more-effective and less invasive than they’ve ever been before. Technology has allowed doctors to get a better sense of what’s wrong and how to make it right. If you’re living with knee pain, you owe it to yourself to seek out treatment. It’s the first step towards better.
The experts at Onward Orthopedics pride themselves in offering nothing but the best in treatment for a wide range of knee conditions. Employing a patient-centric approach to care, the experts here have ensured positive outcomes in countless cases. Learn more about what they do by calling (800) 577-1693 today!
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- “Total Knee Replacement – Orthoinfo – AAOS”. 2018. Aaos.Org. Accessed December 2 2018. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/total-knee-replacement/.
- “Unicompartmental Knee Replacement – Orthoinfo – AAOS”. 2018. Aaos.Org. Accessed December 2 2018. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/unicompartmental-knee-replacement/.
- “Knee Arthroscopy – Orthoinfo – AAOS”. 2018. Aaos.Org. Accessed December 2 2018. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/knee-arthroscopy/.
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- “ACL Reconstruction – Mayo Clinic”. 2018. Mayoclinic.Org. Accessed December 2 2018. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/acl-reconstruction/about/pac-20384598.