By Dr. Nandan Rao, Orthopaedics
Recurrent or chronic knee pain that does not respond to treatment is the trigger for knee replacements for many people. A knee joint replacement procedure is an invasive procedure that doctors’ resort to when there is no other option left. This happens mostly at late stages of osteoarthritis when cartilages and soft tissue have degenerated beyond a certain point.
It is not a good idea to wait for the condition to deteriorate and necessitate a knee replacement.
Moreover, artificial joints are mechanical devices that are prone to infections, loosening, complications, stiffness, etc. Patients may also need repeat surgeries.
Nevertheless, doctors can undertake far less complicated and less invasive procedures to arrest the degeneration of tissues and slow down the progress of damage to their knees.
Knee Joint Preservation
The goal of joint preservation is reducing inflammation, preventing injury, and preserving the cartilage. The physician weighs his options for knee preservation and knee replacement in view of the following:
- Age: In younger patients, joint preservation has been found to be effective in comparison to older patients.
- Weight: Higher body weight puts higher stress on the knees. The less the body weighs, the more successfully a doctor can go on with joint preservation.
In this technique, doctors inject hyaluronate into the knee joint. This chemical imparts smoothness to the joint and helps improve shock absorption by the knee. Doctors can undertake knee injections along with other joint preservation techniques.
ACL reconstruction is a surgical process, yet it is a kind of joint preservation. It can go a long way in preserving the knee joint since ACL tears often cause instability of the knee. This continued instability leads to degeneration of the knee. ACL reconstruction restores stability to the knee and is the first measure to preserve the joint.
Menisci are the soft crescent like shock absorbers of the knee joint. They can be injured in road accidents, knee twisting injuries and sports injuries. They can be injured in isolation or along with other ligament injuries. Meniscus repair helps to preserve the meniscus’ shock absorbing function and prevent knee degeneration.
High tibial osteotomy
In young patients with knees that are not aligned properly, arthritis and degeneration sets in early. In such cases high tibial osteotomy by re-aligning the knees ensures proper distribution of body weight and prevents degeneration. This is a procedure in which the mal-aligned bones are surgically corrected and an arthroscopy procedure done along with it helps to correct the problems inside the knee joint.
There are wide ranges of options for knee joint preservation in young patients with knee degeneration. The choice of treatment depends on the underlying problem.
One should opt for options depending upon the severity of the conditions. He/she should also consult an orthopedic specialist before going for any option.