Total Knee Replacement in Seattle, WA
The largest weight-bearing joint in the body, a properly functioning knee is required for almost all activities. Any damage to the knee joint can result in pain during simple everyday activities, such as walking, or even during resting periods, such as sitting. The knee joint is comprised of three main components: the thighbone (femur), the shinbone (tibia), and the kneecap (patella). Large ligaments connect the femur and tibia to maintain stability and prevent abnormal movements, while surrounding thigh muscles help to provide strength.
The meniscus, a soft disc of cartilage located between the femur and tibia, prevents friction between the bones and balances the weight and tension placed on the knee during movement. Surrounding the knee joint is the synovium, a thin tissue that produces a fluid to reduce friction between the bones.
Osteoarthritis of the Knee
The leading cause of knee pain is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that is most commonly found in patients over the age of 50 or who have experienced trauma or injury. During the progression of osteoarthritis, the cartilage thins, exposing the ends of the bones. As the exposed ends of the femur and tibia rub against each other, the patient will experience stiffness, pain, and a decrease in the knee’s range of motion.
Several factors can increase a patient’s risk of developing osteoarthritis, including weight, age, and repetitive use. Excessive weight, or pressure, on the knee joint can cause the condition to progress more quickly. Osteoarthritis is more common in patients over the age of 50 because the ability of cartilage to heal itself decreases later in life and the increased wear of repetitive motion over a long period of time. Osteoarthritis can also develop after trauma or injury because of strain on the joint caused by fractures or ligament tears.
Based on the stage of the disease and the patient’s needs, Dr. Pritchett will develop an individualized treatment plan. During the early stages of the osteoarthritis, Dr. Pritchett may recommend a more conservative course of treatment to decrease pain and slow the progression of the disease, such as physical therapy, weight loss, non-steroidal pain medications, and exercise.
Invasive procedures are commonly recommended for patients who experience severe pain during daily activities, suffer from joint stiffness, and those who do not benefit from more conservative treatments. If only one section of the knee joint has been damaged by osteoarthritis, Dr. Pritchett may recommend partial knee replacement, in which only the damaged or diseased area of the knee joint is replaced with a prosthesis. If the entire or majority of the knee joint has been damaged, total joint replacement is typically recommended.
Total Knee Replacement
Total knee replacement is a surgical procedure often recommended for patients with severe osteoarthritis. For total knee replacement procedures, Dr. Pritchett will use a minimally invasive approach whenever possible. Using an incision at the front of the knee, Dr. Pritchett will remove the damaged bone and cartilage. After the damaged area is removed, the bone surfaces will be shaped to fit the artificial joint. The prosthesis is composed of three pieces: the metal femoral component (covers the end of the thigh bone), the metal and plastic tibial component (covers the end of the shin bone), and the plastic patellar component (fitted to the kneecap).
Patients are typically required to stay at the hospital for 1-2 days after total knee replacement surgery. With a combination of physical therapy and exercise patients can expect to return to their normal everyday activities 2 to 6 weeks after surgery.
Total Knee Replacement in Seattle, WA
James W. Pritchett, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who is renowned for his experience in total joint replacement and the use of minimally invasive techniques. For an evaluation with Dr. Pritchett regarding knee pain and treatment options, schedule an appointment at his office (206) 323-1900.
Last Modified: July 30, 2014