If you've been experiencing chronic knee pain without a visible end, knee replacement may be the best solution. However, knee replacement is a serious procedure, and you may have one important question before you decide to have surgery: How bad does a knee have to be before replacement?
Not every patient is a good candidate for knee replacement, and more conservative methods can often help alleviate knee pain. However, in some cases, putting off a necessary knee replacement procedure may worsen your symptoms.
At , our team of expert doctors will assess your knee and provide you with an individualized plan. Before recommending a knee replacement, they consider all options, as well as accounting for your personal needs and concerns. We'll ensure that should you opt for surgery, you're comfortable with your decisions and confident in your results.
Here are some important facts to know about knee replacement surgery, including some reasons why knee replacement might be right for you:
What Is a Knee Replacement?
Joint damage can occur for a number of reasons, from natural wear and tear over time to an injury. A knee replacement is a surgery where the damaged parts of the knee joint are replaced with prosthetic components. Knee replacements are designed to diminish knee pain, improve mobility and restore function.
Types of Knee Replacement
There are a few types of knee replacement surgery that can be used to treat a variety of conditions. The type of procedure performed will depend on the cause and severity of your condition, as well as your age and activity level. The most common types include:
- Partial Knee Replacement: During this procedure, only one side of the knee joint is replaced with a prosthetic implant. This allows many patients reduced recovery time. Partial knee replacement is a treatment option for adults living with early- to midstage osteoarthritis (OA) that has not yet progressed to all three compartments of the knee.
- Patellofemoral Joint Replacement: Patellofemoral osteoarthritis (PFOA) is a common cause of anterior knee pain in patients over the age of 40 years. Patellofemoral arthroplasty (PFA) is an option to address PFOA when the non-operative options have failed. Appropriate patient selection has proven to be imperative.
- Total Knee Replacement: During a total knee replacement, both sides of the knee joint are replaced with a prosthetic implant. Total knee replacements often involve more recovery time than partial replacements but can provide long-term relief and improved function.
How Does Knee Replacement Surgery Work?
Knee replacement surgery is a complex process that involves preparing the knee joint and attaching prosthetic components while maintaining good alignment.
Many of our physicians use the Mako SmartRobotics™ system, an innovative solution for many suffering from painful arthritis of the knee. Mako uses 3D CT-based planning software so your surgeon can know more about your anatomy to create a personalized joint replacement surgical plan. This 3D model is used to preplan and assist your surgeon in performing your partial or total knee replacement.
In the operating room, your surgeon follows your personalized surgical plan while preparing the bone for the implant. The surgeon guides Mako’s robotic arm within the predefined area, and Mako’s AccuStop™ technology helps the surgeon stay within the planned boundaries that were defined when the personalized preoperative plan was created. By guiding your doctor during surgery, Mako’s AccuStop™ technology allows your surgeon to cut less by cutting precisely what’s planned to help protect your healthy bone.
It’s important to understand that the surgery is performed by an orthopedic surgeon, who guides the Mako’s robotic arm during the surgery to position the implant in the knee joint. Mako SmartRobotics™ does not perform surgery, make decisions on its own or move without the surgeon guiding it. Mako SmartRobotics™ also allows your surgeon to make adjustments to your plan during surgery as needed.
You May Be a Good Candidate for Knee Replacement If:
You've Tried Conservative Treatments
Before considering a knee replacement, it’s important to explore all other treatment options.
Your doctor will likely suggest non-surgical methods like physical therapy, lifestyle changes, injections, and anti-inflammatory medications to manage your condition. However, when conservative treatments fail to provide relief, knee replacement may be necessary.
You're in Severe Pain
While medications and other conservative treatments can help manage joint pain, they are not always sufficient. If your pain is severe and chronic -- meaning it always comes back, no matter what -- then knee replacement may be an option to provide pain relief and regain function.
Unlike some other conservative solutions, knee replacement offers long-term pain relief by replacing the damaged parts of the joint with prosthetic implants, allowing your knee to operate as it should.
Common candidates for knee replacement surgery are patients with damaged cartilage as a result of severe osteoarthritis. While medications, topical creams, and other treatments can help alleviate symptoms of arthritis in the short term, these treatments often don’t provide long-term relief.
Knee replacement can be an effective solution to reduce pain and improve mobility for those who suffer from advanced stages of knee osteoarthritis.
Your Pain Affects Your Quality of Life
If your knee pain interferes with your ability to do the activities that you enjoy during your daily life, then it’s time to consider knee replacement surgery. Whether you’re a person that enjoys exercise or just wants the freedom to walk around and perform everyday tasks without pain, knee replacement can help restore function when pain prevents you from living life.
Your Knee Replacement Recovery Process
Knee replacement recovery time typically takes several weeks and ranges from 6 weeks to 3 months. After surgery, you can expect to have some pain, bruising, and swelling in the area of your knee. Your doctor will prescribe physical therapy to help speed up your recovery period and restore the function of your new knee joint.
That said, every patient is unique, and the recovery process and timeline can vary depending on your age, overall health, and other factors.
Your Orthopedic Surgeon: Barrington Orthopedic Specialists
Most people who undergo knee replacement don't regret their choice. That said, it is always a personal decision, and it is important to find an experienced orthopedic surgeon who can provide the best care and guidance.
At in Schaumburg, Illinois, our team of board-certified orthopedic surgeons specializes in all aspects of knee replacement surgery. We use cutting-edge techniques and advanced prosthetic material to ensure maximum comfort and optimal joint function.
The following physicians specialize in knee replacement surgery; Dr. Hasham Alvi, Dr. Sean Jereb, Dr. Paul Nourbash, Dr. Thomas Obermeyer, Dr. Jason Rostein, and Dr. Keith Schroeder. Learn more about our providers .