Patrick A. Meere, M.D.

Do I Need a Total or Partial Knee Replacement?

If you are experiencing constant pain in either or both of your knees and it is impacting your daily life or getting in the way of the things that you love, it’s probably obvious that you need a joint replacement. Coming to that conclusion can be exciting; after all, you’re one step closer to a more active and comfortable lifestyle. But making the decision to go for the procedure can also come with an overwhelming amount of information and options.

One of the more common questions that I get from patients in my New York office is whether they should get a total or partial knee replacement. There are pros and cons to both procedures, and both have had significant advances in recent years. Sometimes, a condition is so advanced that a partial replacement will not do much good in an individual. At the same time, because a total replacement takes away so much of your natural joint, I don’t typically recommend it to those with only a little bit of damage.

The good news is that you won’t be navigating the “partial vs. total” decision on your own. Together, we will evaluate your specific situation and goals to decide the best course of treatment. Here are a few basics to keep in mind as you move toward procedure day.

Partial replacements

I always think it’s best when a patient can keep as many original parts as possible. Unlike its total replacement counterpart, a partial knee replacement allows a patient to preserve key original ligaments, leading to natural balance and function in the joint. Another benefit is that partial replacements are typically conducted using a minimally invasive approach. This means you’ll undergo a robotic-guided surgery with reduced scarring and reasonably quick healing time. If the damage to your knee is limited to only one area, you might be a great candidate for a partial replacement. Do keep in mind that you might need additional surgery in five to 10 years. If the idea of this worries you or your situation is somewhere between needing a partial or total replacement, you might be more comfortable with the more extensive procedure.

Total replacements

Total replacements are quite common among my clients and are typically chosen when a knee is totally worn out from injury, years of activity, arthritis, or other strenuous causes. During the procedure, your natural cap and cartilage is removed and replaced with metallic and plastic parts created to mimic the structure and movement of a natural joint. There are several different approaches for a total knee replacement, including a minimally invasive technique. Thanks to modern technology, sensors and computer-assisted navigation can help lessen your recovery time. Still, it will be important for you to maintain your physical therapy assignments to get the most out of the procedure.

If you’re debating whether you need a total or partial knee replacement, don’t feel like you have to go at it alone. Call or come in for a consultation so we can discuss all of your options.