The knee joint can be damaged by injury or disease. It is a very complex joint. Knee surgery can repair damage to the ligaments, cartilage and bones, or a combination of these. The objective of any knee surgery is to preserve the joint’s function, stability and mobility. Not all knee pain requires surgery. If you have a sprain or strain, nonsurgical options exist to help you recover. When surgery is required, minimally invasive surgery has significant advantages over traditional open surgery.
Noninvasive treatments for knee pain can include:
- RICE: Rest, ice, compression and elevation are key noninvasive approaches for both strains and sprains
- Over the counter (OTC) and prescription pain medications may be added to RICE
- Weight loss and low impact regular exercise can help to slow down arthritic changes
- Steroid injections
- Viscosupplementation – Hyaluronic acid injections for knee osteoarthritis can improve joint pain and stiffness
- Physical therapy
- Knee braces
Whether and how effective these work and for how long depends on the cause of your knee pain. When all noninvasive treatments are found to be ineffective to relieve your symptoms, arthroscopic or minimally invasive surgery may be offered.
Minimally Invasive Knee Surgery
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure to diagnose knee joint problems. Arthroscopy uses a small camera inside a tube that is inserted through tiny incisions, to examine the joint. If surgery is needed, special instruments can be inserted to treat knee problems. The addition of computer-guided navigation technology including imaging and mapping can assist the surgeon during arthroscopic surgery. Minimally invasive knee surgery reduces deep muscle and soft tissue trauma, and ligament damage, with less risk and complications. After surgery, physical therapy and rehabilitation may be necessary to restore strength and mobility. However, not every patient is a candidate for arthroscopic knee surgery.
The skilled surgeons at Orthopaedic Specialists of North County can offer you surgical repair of the bones, cartilage, ligaments, muscles and tendons with less pain, less blood loss and minimal scarring. That means rapid recovery and improved outcomes, which is why patients are so satisfied with minimally invasive knee surgery.
- Ligament reconstruction. The goal is to restore stability to the knee. Recovery from reconstructive surgery, coupled with rehabilitation, takes about six months.
- Meniscus Repair. The meniscus is the pad of cartilage between your thigh bone and shin bone that cushions the knee joint. The meniscus can tear. Some tears will heal and others will require repair or removal of damaged cartilage and bone floating in the joint to restore function and eliminate pain.
- Tendon repair. The patellar tendon connects the knee cap to the shin bone. It takes a strong force to cause tendon tears. Falls, cuts and blows to the knee cause tendon tears.
When this tendon tears the correct treatment depends on whether the tear is partial or complete. Partial tears can heal with immobilization and physical therapy, but with a complete tear, the tendon detaches from the knee cap and makes it impossible to straighten the leg, and mobility is lost. Most patellar tendon injuries require surgery to reattach the tendon to the knee cap, to restore normal function and quality of life.
- Microfracture knee surgery. This surgery repairs damaged knee cartilage by creating small microfractures in the bone near the damage, to stimulate the growth of new of cartilage. The objective is to prevent further damage to the cartilage, prevent arthritis and avoid a knee replacement. The best candidates are people under age 40 with recent damage. Sports athletes frequently seek this minimally invasive surgery because recovery is typically 4-6 months. The majority of patients treated with microfracture surgery experience considerable pain relief, improved quality of life and the ability to participate in sports again.
Open Knee Surgery
In open knee surgery, an incision of 8-12 inches is required to visualize the knee and all of its components. This incision cuts through tendons and muscles and requires about 3 months of recovery. It also increases the risk of infection, blood clots and damage to knee cartilage. Whether open knee surgery is required depends on the type of injury or damage and the extent of the injury or damage.
When you suffer a knee injury and you are in pain, schedule a consultation with the board-certified surgeons at Orthopaedic Specialists of North County. We serve Greater San Diego County, Escondido, San Marcos, Carlsbad, Vista, Encinitas and Solana Beach. You can expect compassionate, quality care from experienced experts and skilled orthopedic surgeons. We will give you the information you need to make the decision that is right for you.