Partial vs. total knee replacement – what’s the difference and is either right for you?

Here are the pros and cons of partial and total knee replacement.

Do you have chronic pain or arthritis in your knee? Your provider may recommend a knee replacement to get you back to living a pain-free, active life.

There are two types of knee replacement surgery: total knee replacement and partial knee replacement. Depending on your health history, you may qualify for one versus the other.

Total knee replacement versus partial knee replacement

In a total knee replacement, the surgeon removes the entire joint and replaces it with an artificial joint. In a partial knee replacement, either the inside (medial) or outside (lateral) compartments of the knee joint are removed and replaced with artificial parts.

How long does a knee replacement last?

It could last you the rest of your life. Modern implants can last decades, sometimes over 20 years. However, if you have the surgery at a younger age, you may outlive the implant due to natural wear-and-tear. Also, with a partial knee replacement, the parts of the knee that were not replaced may get worse over time, which may be cause to need a total knee replacement.

Who qualifies for a partial knee replacement?

It depends on your arthritis and where your pain is primarily located. If you have more wear-and-tear in just one compartment of the knee, you may be a candidate for a partial knee replacement. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the joints, you may be a better candidate for total knee replacement. However, with improvements in rheumatoid arthritis medications, some people can be considered for partial knee replacement.

See the difference between the two surgeries


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