Is Knee Surgery Right for You?
Knee pain can be extremely limiting and frustrating. While there are many ways to treat knee pain, sometimes doctors suggest knee surgery if nothing else works. The good news: knee surgery today is very advanced and safe. Read on to find out if knee surgery is right for you.
Doctors will often recommend knee surgery after alternatives have been tried. Common problems that may require surgery are knee injuries and knee osteoarthritis. Knee injuries such as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), or overuse injury can be very painful and may require surgery if other treatment methods are unsuccessful. These injuries are common in athletes. Pain, swelling, bruising, limited range of motion, and instability are all signs of an ACL or MCL injury. See a doctor promptly if you think you have a knee injury. The sooner it is treated the sooner you will recover.
Knee osteoarthritis is a condition that happens when the cartilage that cushions the joints in the knee wears away and the bones of the joints rub together causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased mobility. Once other treatment methods have been tried, a total or partial knee replacement surgery may be necessary to relieve pain from this condition. While young people can get osteoarthritis, the surgery is generally for people who are older than 50 and suffering from severe symptoms.
Doctors will try other treatments before recommending surgery. Alternative treatments to surgery include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, a knee brace, exercise, weight loss, medications injected into the knee, and topical ointments and creams. If you’ve tried these and you still don’t feel like you can trust your knees, it may be time to talk to your doctor about surgery. Ask yourself: Does your knee pain keep you up at night? Are daily activities like walking, climbing stairs, and getting up and down from sitting difficult because of your knee? Does knee pain prevent you from leisure activities like walking, exercising, traveling or shopping? Is your quality of life affected by loss of mobility? If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions you may want to start considering surgery.
Different knee problems require different types of surgery. In the case of an injury like a torn ACL, reconstructive surgery might be needed. If a patient has joint problems likely caused by osteoarthritis, a total or partial knee replacement surgery may be necessary. Total knee replacement surgery is when the entire knee joint is replaced with artificial material. Partial knee replacement surgery is an alternative available to patients whose damage is confined to one compartment of the knee.
For those eligible for partial knee replacement surgery, one option is MAKOplasty, a highly advanced, minimally invasive procedure that is assisted by a robotic arm. “Unlike traditional knee surgery, our robotic arm technology allows us to customize the procedure to an individual’s knee, sparing healthy bone and tissue,” said Andrew M. Star, MD, medical director of the Orthopedic and Spine Institute at Abington Health. Patients also often recover more quickly from this surgery than those who get total knee replacement.
Still have questions? Be sure to tune into the next Abington Health Web Chat on Tuesday, March 24 at 6 p.m. with Dr. Andrew Star, medical director of Abington Health’s Orthopedic and Spine Institute. He will answer questions on knee pain, both conservative and surgical treatments for knee pain as well as MAKOplasty. The chat will be moderated by Lu Ann Cahn, Director of Career Services at Temple University’s School of Media and Communications. Register and ask your confidential questions ahead of time here.This is a paid partnership between Abington Health and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio