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What’s the difference between total knee replacement surgery and partial knee replacement surgery?

Comparing total knee replacement surgery vs. partial knee replacement surgery? If you are experiencing severe knee pain and advanced knee arthritis, what do you need to know about which option is right for you?

Knees serve invaluable functions in our daily movements and the resulting wear and tear can impair stability, inhibit daily activities and yield debilitating pain.

Total knee replacement and partial knee replacement can offer quality outcomes for patients experiencing the debilitating knee pain from diseased or injured knees. If you have severe, chronic knee pain that limits your ability to walk, climb stairs or get in or out of a car – among other things – you’re probably looking for relief.

While it’s often best to pursue and exhaust non-surgical options before considering any type of knee replacement, these procedures can help restore function, reduce pain and improve quality of life.

An experienced orthopedic specialist will want to evaluate your range of motion, stability and strength and knee imaging to determine your best course of treatment.

The knee is comprised of three main sections: the medial compartment, the lateral compartment and the patellofemoral joint, and the course of treatment depends on the level of damage to these three compartments.

Total knee replacement, or arthroplasty, relieves severe knee pain and restores function lost from severely damaged or diseased knee joints that span two or more knee compartments.

Partial knee replacement, however, may be a good option for patients with advanced arthritis from years or wear and tear or inflammation that is contained to only one compartment of the knee.

In arthroplasty, or total knee replacement, damaged knee cartilage and bone are removed and replaced with a metal or plastic prosthesis. The kind of prosthesis used is determined by a patient’s heath, age, weight, activity level.

The latest techniques use robotics to enhance precision often resulting in a faster recovery by limiting the size and extent of incisions. Doing so can preserve a patient’s healthy ligaments.

This includes a technique called Mako SmartRobotics™ for Total Knee replacement, which transforms the way joint replacement surgery is performed, enabling surgeons to increase both accuracy and predictability of outcomes.

Total knee replacement surgery typically takes a few hours and is often followed by a hospital stay of a couple of days to provide rest, pain management and monitoring prior to the transition into a recovery therapy routine.

Within weeks – often as few as three – many light activities such as basic daily functions and driving may resume. Upon full recovery, patients can successfully resume daily walking and low impact physical activities such as biking, swimming or golfing.

Total knee replacements frequently improve patients’ quality of life by providing pain relief and enhanced mobility. Total knee replacements often last 15 or more years.

Like all surgeries, arthroplasty carries risks that include blood clots, infection, nerve damage, stroke, heart attack, or joint failure.

In a partial knee replacement, damaged cartilage or bone that is limited to one area of the knee can be resurfaced or replaced. While any compartment can wear out, the most common compartment failure for partial knee replacement is damage to the medial compartment.

Partial knee replacements help realign and restore knee stability to support positive outcomes. Most partial replacements are outpatient surgery and recovery timelines tend to be faster than with total knee replacement.

In both procedures, outcomes are best if you are otherwise healthy and maintain your physical fitness. This is particularly helpful post-surgery when physical therapy is an integral component of recovery. Patients should expect to commit to several months of physical therapy with either procedure.

Total knee replacement and partial knee replacement can each offer quality outcomes that restore knee function and get patients back to many life activities. To thoroughly evaluate your knee and determine if surgery is right for you, schedule an appointment with a qualified orthopedic surgeon that specializes in knee replacement.

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