Ortho Hips and Knees- Part 5

Surgical Options for Knee Arthritis

As we’ve pointed out in previous blogs, the first line of treatment for knee pain is nearly always non-surgical, even if the pain is significant.  But if alternative methods such as medications, injections, bracing, weight loss or exercise don’t give you relief, you may consider a total knee replacement – a TKR.

If you are considering such a move, you’re bound to have questions.  Here are some of the most common ones, and the answers as provided by the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons.


Arthroscopy involves a surgeon making a small incision in your knee and irrigating and removing loose pieces of cartilage. In the arthritic knee, there is a very limited role for an arthroscopy. Results of a “clean out” or a “wash out” are unpredictable at best and should be avoided.

Partial Knee Replacement – The Unicompartmental Knee

A surgeon performing a partial knee replacement, also known as a “uni,” replaces only the part of the knee that is worn out. This can be either the knee cap-femur joint (patello-femoral) or more commonly the femur-shin joint (femoral-tibial). These procedures are appealing because they are generally less invasive, more normal tissue is retained, and recovery is easier. Outcomes of partial knee replacements can be comparable to total knee replacements ten years after surgery.

Total Knee Replacement

Total Knee Replacement (TKR) is the gold standard when conservative treatment for arthritis of your knee has failed. This procedure involves resecting the ends of the bones of the knee and replacing them with a combination of metal and plastic. This is one of the most successful of all surgical procedures: on average, TKR provides 90-95% pain relief and has only a 1 to 2% complication rate. Approximately 90% of replaced knees will be satisfactory twenty years after surgery.


This procedure, which involves cutting the bone and reorienting the alignment of the knee, has traditionally been reserved for younger patients with malaligned knees who participate in high-demand activities such as sports. Currently, osteotomy has a limited role in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.

Cartilage Procedure

This procedure involves harvesting cartilage cells and transplanting them into the area of disease in your knee. There is very little role for this procedure in an arthritic knee and it has no role to play in the treatment of the advanced arthritic knee.

In our next blog, we’ll discuss total knee replacement in detail.

We at Blue Sky Therapy are ready to assist you!

Blue Sky Therapy has a continued commitment to patient-driven quality, excellence, integrity and innovation in everything that we do. That’s why we are scrupulous about planning the treatment of each and every client, and carefully documenting the outcome!


American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons. Developed by the AAHKS Patient Education Committee. Authors: Craig J. Della Valle, MD, Frank R. DiMaio, MD, Marc W. Hungerford, MD.