Conservative Treatment Options
There are a number of non-surgical, or conservative, treatment options for osteoarthritis and other forms of arthritis. Typically, non-surgical options start with gentle exercise and physical therapy. As the arthritis becomes more painful and limiting, the non-surgical treatment options become more involved.
Surgery, including joint replacement, is generally only recommended after all other conservative treatment options fail to provide relief. Always talk to your primary care physician or to your orthopedic surgeon before starting any treatment plan. Your doctors will help you develop a plan that will best fit your specific condition.
Arthroscopy uses tiny instruments inserted into the joint through small punctures. Damaged tissue can be removed or repaired within the joint providing relief from both pain and swelling while possibly preventing further damage to the knee.
In some patients, a pothole occurs in the joint cartilage on the end of the bone. Various methods may be used to try to correct this problem. The following methods are used primarily for young patients with moderate or isolated cartilage injury.
Microfracture arthroplasty uses an arthroscope to drill small holes into the exposed bone. The holes are designed to encourage cartilage to grow. This procedure is reserved for small areas of damage.
Direct Cartilage Transplantation
Direct cartilage transportation takes healthy cartilage and moves it to a damaged area of cartilage. This procedure is reserved for younger patients with small defects, not for patients with significant arthritis.
Cartilage cells can be harvested during an arthroscopic procedure and then grown in a lab for later transplantation. These cells are then implanted into the defect. Again, this procedure is reserved for younger patients with small defects, not for patients with significant arthritis.
Partial Knee Replacement
The knee is composed of three separate compartments. Osteoarthritis sometimes develops in only one compartment of the knee, while the other two compartments remain relatively healthy. Patients who have osteoarthritis in only one compartment may be candidates for partial knee replacement.
The advantage of a partial knee is that it resurfaces only the damaged cartilage of the knee, preserving the undamaged cartilage. The benefits of this procedure include a smaller incision (3,4 inches), a quicker recovery, and less bone removal. The disadvantages are that partial knee surgery may not last as long as total joint replacement surgery. You and your surgeon will determine if a partial knee is appropriate for you.
Minimally Invasive Surgery: Reducing Trauma to Your Knee
Biomet was the first company to introduce a minimally invasive surgical technique for total knee replacement. Our Microplasty® Minimally Invasive Instrumentation reduces the incision from 6-8″ to 3-4″. Additionally, this approach reduces the extent to which the surgeon must disrupt the soft tissue surrounding the knee. As a result, your muscles, ligaments, and tendons will undergo less trauma during surgery. This may help reduce post-operative pain, improve your recovery time, and get you back on your feet faster.
Potential Benefits of the Rapid Recovery Program are:
- Shorter hospital stays
- Earlier mobilization
- Accelerated recovery process
- Less blood loss
- Reduction of scar tissue
Total Knee Replacement
Your surgeon may recommend knee replacement surgery if you have significant arthritis. Surgeons don’t actually replace the joint as is commonly thought. Your surgeon actually replaces the damaged cartilage found at the ends of the bones in your knee joint. Perhaps it should be called “cartilage replacement surgery.”
Knee replacement implants to resurface the joint are typically made from metal alloy and polyethylene (plastic). The implants are designed to restore function and eliminate as much discomfort as possible while allowing you to return to a more active lifestyle.
Rehabilitation and walking begin the day after surgery, and the hospital stay is normally 3 to 4 days. Therapy will begin in the hospital and usually continues after discharge for approximately 6 to 12 weeks.
Knee Replacement surgery has been extremely successful in helping patients with arthritis return to their normal activities and relieve their discomfort.