The Three Types Of Knee Replacement Your Doctor May Recommend

Posted on: 19 February 2021

The term "knee replacement surgery" seems pretty straightforward. It's a surgical procedure to replace your knee! However, there are actually several different types of knee replacement procedures. Which one your doctor recommends will depend on the nature and extent of the damage to your natural knee. However, it is helpful to know a little about each procedure so you have a better idea of what your doctor means by their recommendation.

Partial Knee Replacement

In a partial knee replacement, as the name suggests, only part of the knee is replaced. This option is usually preferred when only one compartment of the knee has been damaged, which is often true with arthritis cases. Usually, it is the medial compartment of the knee — the side on the inside of your leg — that is replaced. However, the lateral compartment may be replaced if this is where most wear is seen.

A partial knee replacement requires a smaller incision and is less traumatic for the patient to heal from than a total knee replacement. However, if the patient's arthritis continues to progress, they may need to have the rest of the knee replaced in the future.

Total Knee Replacement

In a total knee replacement, both compartments of the knee are replaced. This is done if both compartments are damaged, or if the doctor has reason to believe that the other compartment will simply become damaged if left intact.

A total knee replacement takes longer to perform than a partial knee replacement, and patients need quite a bit more physical therapy in order to recover and regain use of their knee. However, the procedure does alleviate pain, and patients rarely need another surgery. A total knee replacement can last a lifetime.

Kneecap Replacement

If it's your patella that you are primarily having problems with, then your surgeon may recommend a procedure called a kneecap replacement. The tendons and ligaments connected to your knee cap will be disconnected and instead attached to an artificial knee cap. This can help prevent arthritis and pain in the rest of your knee as you continue to use it. (A stiff or otherwise damaged knee cap can contribute to arthritis development over time.) In other words, if you have a knee cap replacement now, you may avoid the need for a total knee replacement in 5 years.

Kneecap replacement is less invasive and has a shorter recovery time than other knee replacement options, but you'll still need some physical therapy to recover well.

If your doctor recommends a knee replacement, be sure to ask them to clarify which type they mean. Each procedure is a bit different; they can tell you more about the nuances.