Alternative to Knee Replacement

For 25 years Robert Reid kept active by practicing karate, playing football, softball, and basketball. But, his love for sports took a toll on his body. Robert developed arthritis in his knees and would need surgery.

The knee pain was tremendous, you always have that constant, constant ache that throbbing. I actually got to the point I was probably popping Advil’s like M&M’s, recalls Robert. To alleviate Robert’s pain doctors performed a partial knee resurfacing. A knee has 3 separate compartments, and when only one part of the knee is diseased we have the opportunity to just replace that part of the knee; and instead of fully replacing it, I’m able to simply resurface the end of the bone with metal on one side and a high density medical plastic on the other side and leave the rest of the knee completely intact and leave all the ligaments and the rest of the person’s feeling of their knee as if it was their old knee, explains orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Ira Kirschenbaum.

 Because only the damaged surface of the knee is replaced during a partial knee resurfacing, trauma is minimized to healthy bone and tissue. “When you do a total knee replacement the whole knee gets chopped out and if it fails in 10 years, 12 years or whenever you have to put in another total knee, you’ve burnt every bridge,” reports Dr. Kirschenbaum.

According to Dr. Kirschenbaum, partial knee resurfacing would not be an effective treatment option for people suffering from severe arthritis and those patients battling rheumatoid arthritis. “Anyone with the osteoarthritis restricted primarily to one part of the joint is an excellent candidate and that represents probably 70% of all knee arthritis that’s out there.”

Dr. Kirschenbaum explains there are three phases of rehabilitation…first phase is healing of the wound, second, is achieving motion and third, is regaining the function you had prior to the surgery. By the end of the second week, most patients are 95% there with motion and function. And by 4 to 6 weeks most patients are resuming their usual activities. Symptoms of knee arthritis include pain with activities, limited range of motion, stiffness of the knee, swelling of the joint, tenderness along the joint, a feeling the joint may "give out," or deformity of the joint like knock-knees or bow-legs.


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