Joints refer to the areas on our body where two or more bones meet. While we have different kinds of joints, the ones more commonly used and more easily damaged are the weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees. Less commonly, non-weight bearing joints, such as the shoulder, are damaged. Through overuse and aging, these joints may become weak and painful. Joint disorders such as arthritis cause pain and limit our daily activities.
Reconstructive partial joint replacement, or hemi-arthroplasty, offers relief for many people through safe and minimally invasive procedures when performed by a skilled orthopedic surgeon. Many people who have ongoing pain or loss of function in a joint may be a candidate for partial joint replacement surgery.
Hips and knees, the largest joints on the human body, bear a tremendous toll over the years from wear and tear, chronic disease such as arthritis, and traumatic injury. When joints are damaged, the resulting pain can disrupt sleep, reduce mobility, and affect all aspects of daily life.
If you suffer from hip or knee pain, rest assured you are far from being alone. Each year six million Americans seek medical help for painful knees. This translates into 2.5 percent of the U.S. population seeking orthopedic specialists for relief of knee pain. It’s estimated that about 32 million Americans visit their physician for some form of arthritis. Non-surgical intervention is the first line of treatment, with medications, therapy and injections. Surgery is reserved for those patients who do not respond to more conservative measures.
Thankfully, partial knee reconstruction and partial hip reconstruction have become very reliable procedures as orthopedic surgeons continue to revise and improve upon these minimally-invasive techniques. And, most of today’s artificial joints can be expected to last at least 15 years, and some longer than 20 years.
Partial knee reconstruction may be possible for patients with damage to one part of the joint. The knee has three distinct compartments, which can be treated separately. Doctors refer to this limited reconstruction as a unicompartmental knee replacement. In a partial or unicompartmental knee replacement, only the diseased parts of the knee are removed and replaced; the healthy portions are left untouched. Successful partial knee replacements can delay or eliminate the need for a total knee replacement. They also allow a greater range of movement than standard total knee replacements, and they are often performed as an outpatient procedure returning the patient home on the same day.
Partial hip reconstruction is an alternative to total hip replacement, and is usually reserved for the elderly patient with a particular type of hip fracture.
Although partial shoulder joint reconstruction is less common than partial knee or partial hip replacement, it is successful in relieving joint pain and is usually used to treat osteoarthritis, and is commonly performed on an outpatient basis.
The benefits of partial joint reconstruction surgery include smaller incisions, a shorter hospital stay, less bleeding, reduced risk of infection and other complications, and faster recovery and rehabilitation.
When searching for the right orthopedic surgeon, ask friends and family for referrals and always consult an orthopedic surgeon with extensive experience performing the reconstruction your condition requires.