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Minimally Invasive Surgery

Minimally invasive treatment options are available for a range of orthopedic conditions, including those requiring hip or knee replacement efforts. Compared to traditional open surgery, frequently reported benefits of these approaches include: minimized surgical cutting and blood loss, shorter hospital stays, faster recovery times and reduced post-operative pain.

Whenever possible, the team at Flathead Orthopedics will recommend minimally invasive techniques, enabling a faster patient return to both basic functionality and recreational activities.

Conditions for Treatment

Both the condition type and its severity level will influence whether there is the option for minimally invasive care. While cartilage damage and ligament tears are frequently diagnosed and corrected through these efforts, the symptoms of osteoarthritis are a common cause for minimally invasive hip or knee replacement.

Although found to run in families, osteoarthritis is often associated with degenerative wear-and-tear, resulting from the aging process or exhaustive use. Athletes are especially susceptible to the early onset of osteoarthritis-caused damage and pain.

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Symptoms and Diagnosis

Osteoarthritis is characterized by the breakdown of a joint’s surface cartilage, which results in increased friction and disabled motion. Progressive pain and stiffness will emerge, growing more frequent and pronounced over time. While basic activities will be inhibited during the early stages of osteoarthritis, advanced cases may render standing, walking, driving, and climbing stairs impossible without the assistance of crutches or another support device.

In diagnosing hip or knee damage, the team at Flathead Orthopedics will start by recording a medical history, focusing on both overarching health and specific injury symptoms. Strength, flexibility, and range of motion tests will be completed to assess basic joint function. In addition, if significant damage is identified, an x-ray or MRI will likely be used to determine the extent and specifics of the injury.

Minimally Invasive Surgical Approach

Upon initial diagnosis, non-invasive treatment options will likely be prescribed for the relief of pain and other symptoms. If symptoms are too advanced or unresponsive to these relief efforts, surgical intervention will often be recommended for successful damage correction.

Arthroscopy and other minimally invasive efforts are prioritized whenever possible. In determining a best approach, a number of factors will be taken into consideration including: age, overarching health, bone structure, body mass, and musculature.

In cases of hip or knee replacement, a minimally invasive approach will allow for the use of one or two small incisions, rather than a single, longer opening. While more comprehensive minimally invasive surgeries will often be performed under general anesthesia, the minimized cutting will allow for a shorter post-op hospital stay and faster overall recovery.

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Post-Op Recovery and Care

As with traditional surgeries, after a minimally invasive operation, special efforts should be taken to ensure gradual recovery and the avoidance of re-injury. Following surgery, a combination of the following approaches will likely be prescribed for pain relief and rehabilitation kick-off:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Analgesic medications (painkillers)
  • Nutrition management
  • Exercise and physical therapy
  • Bracing and/or motion supports

Initial recovery efforts will likely target flexibility and range of motion, and be followed by strength-building exercises. A full return of joint function will likely require several months of attentive care, including ongoing guidance from the Flathead Orthopedics team. Before returning to any physical activity, medical clearance should be received in order to avoid over-exertion of the treated joint. While there are few risks associated with minimally invasive surgery, any concerns or questions should be addressed to the care team immediately.

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