In addition to knee replacement surgery, there are other surgical procedures performed on the knee to manage arthritis, injuries, and trauma. Here are a few options you and your orthopedic surgeon can consider.
Three common types of knee joint injuries are a meniscus tear (also called torn cartilage), injury to the medial collateral ligament (MCL), and injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). It is not uncommon for all three injuries to occur together, earning them the title of “unhappy triad.”
Basically, arthroscopic surgery is done under general or spinal anesthesia. The surgeon makes several small incisions around the knee, pumps in sterile saline to expand the site, and then inserts an arthroscope into an incision. A camera at the end of the arthroscope sends pictures from inside the knee to a monitor. The surgeon can make the necessary repairs to the meniscus, ACL, and/or MCL.
An osteotomy involves removing a wedge of bone from one side of the knee to shift the individual’s body weight from the damaged area toward the healthy side. The procedure takes about 60 to 90 minutes to complete and is done under general or regional anesthesia. After surgery, you can begin rehabilitation almost immediately, and you will likely be on crutches for at least six weeks. After that time, you can begin physical therapy, which will include stretching, strengthening, and light aerobic exercise. This surgical procedure not only relieves knee pain, it also helps the knee function more normally and can allow you to delay total knee replacement for about 10 years.
People who have inflammatory arthritis in the knee sometimes choose a synovectomy, which is removal of the inflamed lining of the knee joint. It is often performed arthroscopically (through a small incision using a knee scope) and can often slow down progression of the disease and postpone more invasive surgery if it is performed very early in the disease process and the knee joint is relatively healthy. If the cartilage is destroyed, however, a synovectomy is not much help.