What to Expect During a Partial Knee Replacement


Partial Knee ReplacementImage of the knee

What To Expect During a Partial Knee Replacement

By: Matt Paulus, MS, ATC, LAT

Often as a physical therapist I am asked what to expect during a partial knee replacement.  Knee replacement surgery involves replacing some or all of the components of the knee joint with a synthetic implant, to repair the damaged weight-bearing surfaces that are causing pain. 

A total knee replacement surgery replaces all three compartments of the diseased knee joint, while a partial knee replacement involves an implant in just one or two compartments of the knee, retaining any undamaged parts. So, what should a patient expect during a partial knee replacement?  Some of this depends on which part of your knee is repaired.  JOI surgeons currently use the Mako Robotic System for partial knee replacements. 

While there are non-surgical and surgical interventions short of a knee replacement which will often provide temporary relief, the long-term resolution to most knee degeneration will be either a total or partial knee joint replacement.

There are several different implant designs, but each will offer renewed stability and movement.

There are two main benefits to be gained from a partial knee replacement surgery: 

  1. Elimination of pain 
  2. Improved range of motion.  

Of all possible surgical interventions, total/partial knee replacement offers the greatest quality of life improvement. Overall, the procedure has a high rate of success.  If you want to learn more about Knee Replacements, please watch this VIDEO. 

Advantages of a Partial Knee Replacement

Multiple studies show that a majority of patients who are appropriate candidates for the procedure have good results with a partial knee replacement. 

The advantages of a partial knee replacement over a total knee replacement include:

  • A quicker recovery
  • Typically less pain after surgery
  • Less blood loss  

Additionally, because the bone, cartilage, and ligaments in the healthy parts of the knee are kept intact, many patients report that a partial knee replacement feels more natural than a total knee replacement. Oftentimes a partial knee may also bend better.

JOI Mako Partial Knee Replacement RobotImage of the Mako Robot

Disadvantages of a Partial Knee Replacement

The disadvantages of partial knee replacement compared with total knee replacement include; slightly less predictable pain relief and the potential need for more surgery. Furthermore, a total knee replacement may be necessary in the future if significant arthritis develops in the parts of the knee that have not been replaced.

Candidates for Surgery

In general, if your knee osteoarthritis has advanced and nonsurgical treatment options are no longer relieving your symptoms, your doctor may recommend knee replacement surgery. In order to be a candidate for a partial knee replacement, typically your osteoarthritis must be limited to just one compartment of your knee.

In addition, if you have any of the following characteristics, you may not be eligible for the procedure:

  • Inflammatory arthritis 
  • Severe knee stiffness
  • Significant ligament damage

In conclusion, we have attempted to answer the question of what to expect during the recovery from a partial knee replacement. With proper patient selection, partial knee replacements have demonstrated excellent medium and long-term results in both younger and older patients alike.

What Activities Can You do After a Partial Knee Replacement

Many people are able to walk without a cane or walker within 3 to 4 weeks after surgery. You will need physical therapy for 4 to 6 months. Most forms of exercise are okay after surgery, including recreational activities such as walking, swimming, tennis, golf, and biking. However, you should avoid high-impact activities that involve lots of repetitive running/jumping such as jogging, soccer, and basketball.

You can expect during the recovery from a partial knee replacement to have some pain which can be managed in physical therapy and with the help of your MD. You can also expect to have a significant improvement in your function for your daily life. 

If you need to make an appointment, call JOI-2000, schedule online, or click below.

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