Partial Knee Replacement vs. Full Knee Replacement: What Are the Differences?
posted by Mitchell Larsen, MD | October 31, 2018
Knee replacement is often necessary when a person’s knee joint becomes severely diseased, inflamed or deteriorated. Knee replacements can help restore a person’s ability to walk, climb stairs or even just get in and out of bed in the morning.
If you live with constant knee pain, you may want to know if a partial or full knee replacement is right for you. To determine whether you are a candidate for knee replacement and, if you are, what type, your orthopedic surgeon will assess your knee’s strength, range of motion and stability. He or she will also perform X-rays to obtain a visual assessment of the damage. Once the evaluation is complete, he or she will inform you of your options.
Partial knee replacement is precisely what it sounds like: the replacement of one compartment of the knee as opposed to the replacement of the entire joint. Your surgeon may recommend partial knee replacement if the damage is limited to a single compartment within the knee. There are a few benefits of partial replacement, including quicker recovery time, less blood loss and less pain after surgery.
What does recovery look like?
If you opt for partial knee replacement, you may be able to move your knee within a day of surgery. The doctor may order a discharge after two to three days. However, you will continue to work with a physical therapist for two to four weeks after surgery. If all goes well, you should be back to full activity within six to eight weeks.
Total Knee Replacement
Your orthopedic doctor may recommend total knee replacement if tests reveal that your knee joints are severely deteriorated. Though complete replacement comes with more risks and a longer recovery time than partial replacement, it does have its advantages. For instance, with partial knee replacement, there is no guarantee that the pain will disappear. Also, patients may need to undergo additional surgery in the future if the condition that caused the pain spreads. Full knee replacement, however, has a high success rate of restoring the knee to full operable condition with just a single surgery.
What does recovery look like?
Recovery time with total knee replacement is, understandably, much longer than that of a partial replacement. Though you are likely to experience discomfort and stiffness in the days following surgery, you will be able to begin physical therapy within just 48 hours. Your participation in the early stages and in the months to come is key to a full recovery. You may have to use a walker or crutches as you retrain your knees to help you move around.
Depending on your condition, knee surgery may be an excellent option for pain relief. If you live in a constant state of discomfort, and if you have a limited range of motion in one or both knee joints, talk to your orthopedic surgeon about treatment options that may be right for you.
“Knee Replacement.” Mayo Clinic.
“Unicompartmental Knee Replacement.” OrthoInfo.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.