If you've been struggling with knee pain for awhile, it's time to get your knee evaluated by an orthopedist. Whether your knee is simply sprained, or you have arthritis in your knee, an orthopedist can help ease the pain so that you can get back to your daily activities. If your knee has significant arthritis, your doctor may suggest a partial or a full knee replacement. While both surgeries involve treatment on your knee, a partial knee replacement is not as extensive as a full knee replacement.
Why an Orthopedist Would Perform a Partial Knee Replacement
A partial knee replacement is done when part of your knee is still in good working order. With the partial knee surgery, only one side of the knee is repaired. This is a less invasive surgery, and the recovery time is less when a partial knee replacement is done. An orthopedic surgeon might perform a partial knee replacement on a patient that is younger, or one that is only having problems with one side of their knee. Most orthopedists don't recommend getting a second total knee replacement, so they will wait as long as possible before performing the first one.
Most patients that are younger than 50 will need a second knee replacement in their lifetime, as knee replacements currently last up to 20 years. It's better for a patient that is younger than 50 to get a partial knee replacement first, because the conversion from a partial knee to a full knee replacement is easier for the surgeon to perform than a full knee replacement to another full knee replacement.
The Total Knee Replacement
With a total knee replacement, the entire joint is replaced with a mechanical device. The surgery is extensive, and it can cause bruising up and down the entire leg. Patients tend to be surprised, though, at how quickly they begin to recover from a total knee replacement. Many patients find that they are up and walking within a week or two of their surgery.
As people live more active, vibrant lives as they get older, the need for partial and full knee replacements continues to rise. People want to be active, and knee joints are some of the first joints in the body to have problems as you age. It takes awhile to recover from knee surgery, and some patients report a full recovery takes up to a year of rehabilitation.