What is a Partial Knee Replacement?

Partial Knee Replacement is a surgical procedure to treat chronic knee pain caused by damage from osteoarthritis, and to restore function. The knee is made of three compartments: the inside part of the knee, the outside part of the knee, and the front compartment made of the knee cap and thigh bone. When osteoarthritis damages the knee joint in a single compartment (inside or outside compartment), a partial knee replacement is an excellent alternative to a total knee replacement. In this procedure, the damaged areas are replaced or resurfaced with metal and plastic implants, preserving healthy cartilage, bone and ligaments.

Orthopedic Specialists of SW Florida in Ft. Myers is the best place to treat your arthritic knees. Our goal is to help our patients get back to the active life they enjoy here in beautiful Southwest Florida. All of our orthopedic surgeons are fellowship-trained and provide personalized, compassionate care that delivers exceptional outcomes.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, also called “wear and tear” arthritis, is inflammation of the joint that causes the cartilage between the bones to fray and wear away, which causes pain. The cartilage is there to protect the knee joint and prevent the bones from scraping together. It also acts as a shock absorber for smooth movement. When the cartilage frays and wears away, the joint becomes painful and stiff, limiting every day activities like walking and climbing stairs, and exercise which is vital to health. Inactivity is harmful and can lead to lost work, and serious disability, among other health problems.

Osteoarthritis is a progressive and irreversible degenerative disease. It commonly occurs in people older than 50, but can also affect younger people.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee:

  • Pain that worsens with activity and improves with rest
  • Inflammation of the knee joint that can feel warm to the touch
  • Difficulty bending and straightening the knee
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness, especially in the morning or after sitting for long periods
  • Loose fragments of cartilage that cause the knee to lock or stick, or make a grinding noise

At Orthopedic Specialists of SW Florida our practice philosophy is to treat early with noninvasive, conservative treatments for degenerative conditions. Our goal is to reduce pain and improve function. However, when you have tried noninvasive treatments and the pain and disability remain, a partial knee replacement can restore your health and function.

Partial Knee Replacement Benefits Over a Total Knee Replacement

The benefits of Partial Knee Replacement are a smaller incision which translates to a shorter recovery period, less post-operative pain, less blood loss, and pain relief which improves knee function.

Patients who receive a Partial Knee Replacement often report that the treated knee functions more naturally, bends better and feels better than a total knee replacement.

Who is a good candidate?

Patients with advanced osteoarthritis in only one part of the knee, who have found that nonsurgical options no longer relieve their pain and disability, are good candidates.

Partial Knee Replacement is available to people of any age; however, it is especially beneficial for young people because this procedure preserves healthy bone, cartilage and ligaments, making surgery easier, and recovery faster. Older patients will find a Partial Knee Replacement is less stressful than a total knee replacement, with a reduced risk of bleeding and less pain.

Your Orthopedic Specialists of SW Florida surgeon is the best person to determine whether you may be a good candidate for Partial Knee Replacement.

Your Orthopedic Consultation

Your Orthopedic Specialists of SW Florida surgeon will ask about your general health, medical history as well as your pain level and ability to function. Your surgeon will evaluate your knee’s range of motion and the quality of your ligaments. Imaging tests may be ordered, which can include an X-ray and/or a MRI to evaluate your knee cartilage. X-rays will reveal the extent of the arthritis, damage, and deformity.

This procedure may be accomplished with a minimally invasive approach; however, there are pros and cons, that will be discussed during your consultation. Your surgeon will also discuss the procedure and how to plan for assistance at home after surgery.

The Procedure

The surgery is done in the hospital or Surgery Center under general or spinal anesthesia. Your Orthopedic Specialists of SW Florida surgeon will see you before the operation to sign your knee as the site for the surgery.

Initially, your surgeon will inspect the knee joint to visualize the cartilage damage, and confirm that it is limited to only one compartment. Your ligaments will be examined because intact ligaments are a prerequisite for a satisfactory outcome.

The damaged cartilage and bone will be removed and replaced with metal parts that resurface the joint. A plastic spacer will be placed between the metal parts to provide a smoothly gliding surface.

You will remain in the hospital for 1-3 days, but you may be able to go home the same day. While in the hospital you will be provided with a walker or crutches to support your weight on the new joint. The ultimate goal is for you to walk without assistance as soon as possible.

You will feel some pain that can be managed with medications. It is important to treat the pain so that your body can heal and so that you can begin rehabilitation with a Physical Therapist.

Partial Knee Replacement offers excellent medium to long-term results for the vast majority of patients. When you are seeking to relieve your knee pain and improve the quality of your life, contact Orthopedic Specialists of SW Florida in Ft. Myers to find out how you can get back to the life you love.