The knee is one of the most injury-prone and frequently damaged joints in the human body. These problems can occur from a trauma, normal wear-and-tear or arthritis, any many other conditions.
But how do you know whether or not you should have a knee replacement? Let’s discuss what your options are and exactly what type of surgeon can provide the right advice to help stop your knee pain.
Treating Knee Pain
When your knee is worn out from arthritis or overuse, there are two options as far as what to do:
- Continue to treat the pain (the symptoms)
- Fix the knee with either a partial knee replacement or a full knee replacement
Your orthopedic surgeon will always recommend conservative (non-operative) treatment first. Only when that no longer works should you consider surgery.
Conservative treatments for knee arthritis include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
- Knee injections, including steroid injections, viscosupplementation (lubricant shots), and other biologic injections such as PRP (platelet-rich plasma) or stem cells
- None of these injections put new cartilage into the knee, but they are meant to provide potential pain relief from your arthritis pain.
When Knee Replacement Surgery Is the Best Option
The knee pain caused by knee arthritis typically waxes and wanes. Patients have good and bad days, even good and bad points during any particular day.
In general, once a patient starts stacking up more bad days than good days, or the pain wakes them up at night, or just keeps them from doing what they want to do – because they have to limit or modify things so much to keep from aggravating the knee that they are not doing the activities that they want to do – that’s when people decide it is time to consider knee replacement surgery to treat their severe knee arthritis.
Most patients with knee arthritis are not causing any more damage to their knee that would not be fixed in the future with a knee replacement anyway. However, occasionally that is not the case, and a patient may be wearing away some of the bones in the knee or damaging the ligaments. That is why it is important to have regular follow-up and monitoring with your orthopedic surgeon.
What Is a Knee Replacement?
Knee replacement, also called a total knee arthroplasty, is the surgical procedure for replacing some or all of the weight-bearing components of the knee joint. The purpose is to help relieve pain and disability associated with osteoarthritis, sports injury, and other health conditions affecting the knee, by preventing the bones in your knee from painfully rubbing together.
Both partial and full knee replacement surgeries are both very common procedures. A partial knee replacement involves replacing only one area of worn-down cartilage and bone that is experiencing arthritis or degeneration; this section of the knee is replaced with prosthetic materials, and the other healthy areas of the knee are preserved.
Although it is often best to keep as much of your original knee as possible, if your entire knee is worn out then the definitive treatment would be a total (also called full) knee replacement. A full knee replacement is when all areas of the knee are resurfaced and with prosthetic materials. The ligaments in your knee are needed to stabilize a knee replacement just like they would stablize your own knee.
Knee Replacement Surgeon in the Triangle
If you are feeling the severe symptoms of knee arthritis, have your knee evaluated by a skilled orthopedic surgeon. You may be able to act early to prevent your condition and physical function from getting worse.
If you wait too long before you have an orthopedic evaluation of your knee pain, you may be causing severe damage to your ligaments, bones, and cartilage in the knee. Dr. Gilbert will always recommend the most conservative treatments to help relieve your knee pain; if X-rays and or an MRI shows that surgical intervention is indeed a necessary option, then he and his team will explain how it works and what to expect, to help you make the most educated decisions possible about your body and your health.
Our goal is always to provide compassionate care, technical expertise, and personalized attention to patients with orthopedic issues. Dr. Gilbert is an experienced orthopedic surgeon with convenient locations across the Triangle region in Raleigh, Apex, Durham, and Brier Creek – and he’s ready to serve you.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Gilbert by calling our office today at (919) 788-8797 or use our simple appointment request form. We would like to help you enjoy a more pain-free, active lifestyle once again.