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

Here's what a partial knee replacement is, how it differs from a total knee replacement and the pros and cons of each.

Partial knee replacement or a total knee replacement may be a way to relive chronic pain or arthritis and get you back to living a pain-free, active life.

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.

Knee pain?

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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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