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How do partial knee replacements work?

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Quick Answer

A partial knee replacement works by removing the affected knee joint's damaged bone and tissue and replacing these with a prosthetic, which is an artificial implant, explains MedlinePlus. The surgical procedure replaces the inner, outer or kneecap portion of the knee.

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Full Answer

Before partial knee replacement surgery, a doctor administers either general anesthesia, which causes the patient to fall asleep, or regional anesthesia, which numbs the areas below the waist, notes MedlinePlus. During the surgery, the doctor creates an incision on the knee that is 3 to 5 inches long. The next step is assessing the condition of the whole knee joint and removing damaged bone and tissue. The doctor then attaches a prosthetic into the knee, uses bone cement to secure it in place and closes the wound with stitches.

Most people who undergo partial knee replacement seek pain relief from severe arthritis, states MedlinePlus. Doctors recommend the surgery if knee pain makes it hard for a person to sleep properly or perform daily activities. Knee pain that persists despite treatment may also require partial knee replacement.

After the procedure, patients often recover fast and experience significantly less pain than usual, reports MedlinePlus. Three to four weeks after surgery, most patients can walk without using a walker or cane. Physical therapy for four to six months is necessary for full recovery.

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