Key Differences Between Knee Replacement and Knee Resurfacing

doctor looking at knee x-ray

Are you suffering from knee pain? You’re not alone. Issues with knee cartilage, arthritis, and many other things can contribute to why you have pain in your knee joint. When your knees hurt constantly, it can adversely impact your daily life, habits, and hobbies. These struggles may ultimately lead you to consider either a total knee replacement or knee resurfacing.

But which one is right for you? Our team at Orthopedic Specialists of North Texas is here to help, and we have developed this guide to knee replacement and knee resurfacing to ensure you fully understand these procedures. Read on for all the information you need to choose what’s right for you.

What Is Knee Replacement?

Knee replacement can also be referred to as knee arthroplasty. It is a procedure that can end up necessary for people with severe arthritis or those who have seriously injured their knees. Your knee is the largest joint in your body, and it’s critical that it functions properly if you want to enjoy the range of activities you engage in daily. A total knee replacement is when all the pieces of your knee joint are replaced at once with an artificial version. Your knee is made up of three sections, which are called compartments, and these are:

  • Lateral: On the outside of the knee.
  • Medial: On the inside of the knee.
  • Patellofemoral: On the kneecap.

If you have damage to all these compartments, you’ll likely need to have your knee joint replaced entirely. However, replacing all the compartments of your knee at the same time isn’t always necessary. In some instances, there are other options available when only certain compartments have been damaged.

What Is Knee Resurfacing?

A relatively new procedure that’s becoming more common is knee resurfacing, which is also referred to as a partial knee replacement. With this procedure, only the damaged compartment of your knee is swapped for an artificial version. When you have knee resurfacing surgery, an orthopedic knee specialist will determine which parts of your knee are damaged and the type of implants you need. This will help them decide how much of your knee needs to be resurfaced. This procedure is considered less invasive than having a total knee replacement, which means that your recovery time may be shorter.

Although you may find the sound of knee resurfacing to be more appealing, the procedure isn’t for everyone. Your primary doctor will likely consult with or refer you to one or more specialists in knee pain to determine the extent of your knee damage. From there, they can more accurately decide whether you need a total knee replacement or only knee resurfacing to repair any damage to the joint.

Who Should Get a Knee Replacement?

Total knee replacement surgery may be necessary if there’s damage to your entire knee joint. This can result from severe osteoarthritis, a serious blow to the joint, or a bad fall where most of the impact is to your knee. If you’ve tried other options, such as anti-inflammatory medications and weight loss to ease the pressure on the joint, but you’re still in pain, then total knee replacement might be your best option. You should consult a knee doctor in Denton, Texas, to get a full diagnosis of your condition and discuss the options available for relieving your knee pain.

Who Should Get Knee Resurfacing?

Many people suffering from knee pain can make good candidates for a knee resurfacing procedure. While knee resurfacing is still an option for older patients, younger, more active people with severe knee pain can have knee resurfacing and still be candidates for knee replacement in the future if necessary.

Those who have intact ligaments, no deformity to their knee joint, and healthy and well-preserved knee compartments are typically ideal candidates for knee resurfacing. In addition, if you only have bone-on-bone arthritis on one side of your knee, this type of knee surgery may be best for your condition.

It’s important to remember that with knee resurfacing, you’re more likely to have complete or nearly complete mobility after your surgery compared to total replacement, which doesn’t restore your full range of mobility.

How To Find an Orthopedic Knee Specialist

Finding the right knee doctor in Denton can prove challenging, as there are several options for you to choose from. Ask for a recommendation from your doctor or ask around and get a referral from someone you know in the area who has been through either knee replacement or knee resurfacing. You may even want to see more than one specialist before choosing one to perform your knee surgery. Consider how long the doctor has been practicing and how many procedures they have performed. The hospital where the doctor will perform your procedure is another consideration.

Here are some questions you can ask your orthopedic knee specialist before you have your knee replacement or resurfacing procedure:

  • How many knee replacement surgeries have you performed?
  • Will my insurance cover this procedure?
  • Can I delay having my knee surgery?
  • How long can I put off having knee surgery?
  • Which type of knee surgery is right for me?
  • How long is the recovery time after the surgery?
  • How long does the knee replacement procedure take?
  • Will I need physical therapy after the procedure?
  • What medications will I need to take after the procedure?

These questions and any others you may think of can help you decide if you’ve found the right orthopedic specialist. They can also help you better understand the procedure so that you know what to expect before and after it happens.

Don’t continue to suffer from knee pain that affects your daily life. If you’re having chronic knee pain that you can’t seem to relieve no matter what you do, then contact us at the Orthopedic Specialists of North Texas. We provide a variety of treatments for knee pain and can help you decide whether knee replacement or knee resurfacing is the right option for your needs and condition.


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