Partial vs. Total Knee Replacement

Question: I have arthritis and need a knee replacement. Should I have a partial or total knee replacement?

Answer: Until recently, the general approach for arthritic knees has been to use cortisone shots and eventually replace the entire knee joint. Many times, only one of the three knee compartments is worn out and a full replacement is not necessary. 

A partial knee replacement resurfaces only the portion of the knee that has arthritic damage, allowing for a shorter recovery time with less pain. A robot is now available to assist the surgeon to perform partial knee replacement, improving surgical accuracy. The MAKOplasty robot uses a surgeon-controlled robotic arm to prepare the knee joint for precise bone shaping, implant insertion and alignment, and optimal soft tissue balancing. This leads to better knee function and improved post-operative motion.

By having a partial knee replacement, you are able to postpone and potentially eliminate the need for a full knee replacement. However, not everyone is a good candidate for partial knee replacement, especially if the arthritis involves more than one compartment, or if the knee is very stiff and angulated.

Talk to your surgeon about the different types of knee replacements available and which is most appropriate for your condition.

What is the usual recovery experience from a shoulder replacement?

Question: What is the usual recovery experience from a shoulder replacement?

Answer: Shoulder surgery often gets a bad rap. Most patients have friends who have been through a rotator cuff repair and are able to recount the pain, extended immobilization and rehabilitation that often follows this procedure. Fortunately, shoulder replacement rarely results in such a protracted course when done correctly.

The typical recovery from a shoulder replacement allows the return to golf and doubles tennis in four to six months following surgery. However, this recovery period is very important.

The use of a sling is necessary for approximately four weeks, to protect the soft-tissue attachments (rotator cuff) and joint while the shoulder heals. Physical therapy is important, as it initially protects the joint from excessive trauma, while also working to recruit the muscles that are necessary to make the shoulder replacement perform as close to a normal shoulder as possible.

Post-operative compliance with instructions and appropriate physical therapy are equally as important as having a skilled surgeon perform your surgery, and nearly guarantees a successful outcome.

One of the most dramatic differences between shoulder replacement and rotator cuff surgery is that the pain following shoulder replacement (if the correct technique is used and the surgeon is skilled) is minimal and very short lived, often lasting less than 48 hours.

Have additional questions? Contact our staff at Flathead Orthopedics today.

Are there any risks with frequent texting or playing video games?

Question:
My hands sometimes hurt after texting. Are there any risks with frequent texting or playing video games?

Answer:
In today’s society, texting has become a quick and simple form of communication that is used by people of all ages. In addition, playing video games and using other forms of technology has become common, and the associated repetitive activities can put stress on the hands - the thumbs, in particular - that can cause problems both now and down the road.

Adults and teenagers, alike, send as many as 100 text messages per day, many using the thumbs for the typing, and this can cause overuse injuries in the hand and can lead to tendonitis, or even carpal tunnel syndrome. The term “testing thumb” has been used to describe this condition, and although it can be remedied by limiting the use of texting or video gaming, there many be long-term problems that can arise.

As with any other repetitive activity, as the tendons become inflamed in the hand, pain and selling may occur and scarring of the tendons many lead to stiffness and increased susceptibility to injuries in the future.

So, if your thumbs are starting to bother you, stop texting to give your thumbs a break. Make a phone call instead. Your friends and loved ones may appreciate the more personal form of communication.