Your knee is the largest joint in your body, which makes it vulnerable to injury and other problems. Sports, exercise, and general wear and tear can cause muscle strains, tendinitis, and more serious injuries. When medications and other treatments can’t keep your knee pain at a manageable level, your orthopedics team may recommend surgery to replace the knee joint.
Knee replacement surgery, also called knee arthroplasty, is a procedure that replaces a worn or damaged knee with an artificial implant – also known as a prosthesis. If you have severe knee damage due to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis or have had injuries that have led to irreversible damage to the knee, knee replacement surgery may be appropriate.
Knee Replacement Options
If knee surgery is necessary, our orthopedic surgeon Dr. Micah Pullins will help you determine what procedure is right for you. Total knee replacement is the standard treatment for advanced osteoarthritis and uses plastic and metal inserts to replace bone and cartilage in the medial, lateral, and kneecap.
While total knee replacements are more common, many patients with chronic knee pain undergo partial knee replacement surgery. This type of surgery is appropriate for patients with localized damage to one part of the knee joint. This surgery replaces the damaged area but leaves healthy areas intact; usually done on the inside or medial section of the knee, it is also done on the lateral or outside section. The partial knee replacement surgery involves smaller incisions and faster recovery but, in the future, you may be a candidate for a total knee replacement.
Evanston Regional Hospital is the only hospital in the region to integrate 3D modeling and robotic arm technology into total knee and partial knee replacement surgeries.
Prior to surgery, a CT scan of your knee joint is taken to generate a 3D virtual model of your unique anatomy. The 3D model allows Dr. Pullins to know more about your joint than ever before and see things they can’t typically see with an x ray alone. This additional information helps Dr. Pullins determine the desired size, placement, and positioning of your implant.
In the operating room, Dr. Pullins follows your personalized surgical plan while preparing the bone for implant. He uses a robotic arm to guide the implant at the desired angle defined in the surgical plan. This helps ensure placement and alignment of the implant are performed according to the plan. The robotic technology also provides real-time data to Dr. Pullins allowing him to continuously assess the movement and tension of your new joint and adjust the surgical plan as needed.
A common concern for patients having knee replacement surgery is whether or not to take opioids following surgery. Evanston Regional Hospital now offers an alternative pain management solution: cryotherapy. Cryotherapy uses the body’s natural response to cold to treat peripheral nerves and immediately reduce pain—without the use of drugs. Treated nerves are temporarily stopped from sending pain signals for a period of time, followed by a restoration of function.
The treatment works by applying targeted cold to a peripheral nerve. A precise cold zone is formed under the skin—cold enough to immediately prevent the nerve from sending pain signals without causing damage to surrounding structures. The effect on the nerve is temporary, providing pain relief until the nerve regenerates and function is restored.
The treatment does not include injection of any substance, opioid, or any other drug. The effect of this treatment is immediate and can last up to 90 days.
Is Knee Replacement Right for Me?
The orthopedic specialists at Uinta Medical Group will look at a wide range of factors including overall health, response to previous treatment, and severity of symptoms when deciding which knee surgery is right for you. Knee replacement may be right for you if you are experiencing severe pain that keeps you from enjoying your life, you can’t fully move your knee, and your symptoms don’t improve with non-surgical treatment such as anti-inflammatory pain medication or physical therapy.
What to Expect After Surgery
Normally a knee replacement surgery will take two to three hours. After surgery, you will spend one to two days in the hospital. Physical therapy will begin a few hours after surgery and after a short hospital stay, most patients return home with a cane. All patients will have access to a customized rehabilitation plan to assist in recovering full strength, mobility, and range of motion. Most patients return to normal activities such as walking and biking in a few months.