More young adults are experiencing knee pain, according to statistics as many as 1 in 3 young adults. Knee pain is commonly caused by imbalances in the muscles adjoining the knee, which have an effect on the kneecap. The most common reason for the pain is poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle.
Increased dependence on junk and frozen food is the prime reason for arthritis and debilitating joint pain. The bacteria that thrive on high-fat junk food trigger inflammation in the body, which causes our immune system to attack its own cartilage and cells in joints like the knee, which are subject to a lot of wear and are particularly susceptible. This has led to an increase in the number of youngsters opting for knee replacements so that they can maintain active lifestyles.
Latest techniques like partial knee replacement and new alloy implants are proving much better than previous ones, ensuring a long-lasting positive effect on knees. Earlier, knee replacement was considered a necessity for the elderly suffering from persistent knee pain. But today, with improved implant technology, the young generation is positive towards opting for surgery at an earlier age.
The main advantage of partial knee replacement is that it preserves the ACL which is a crucial ligament for movement and knee stability, unlike in the case of total knee replacement where it is sacrificed. As this follows the minimal incision approach, a faster recovery, rehabilitation and quick return to full-fledged activities is seen in all patients. Because the ligaments are kept intact, the patient feels the replaced portion of the knee as a natural part itself.
In most of the knee pain cases, only the medial or lateral compartment is affected, unlike in arthritis where it affects all three of them. If diagnosed at an early stage, it can be treated with medications, but when the symptoms have crossed the extreme stage, surgery is the only option left. Full knee replacement has been the most common and the conventional method for treating arthritic knee. This is useful and necessary only when all the three compartments are involved, and can prove to be a disadvantage in case of Unicompartmental arthritis. This is where Unicompartmental knee surgeries are helpful.
Partial knee replacement is a minimally invasive procedure where both the inner and front compartments of the knee joints are resurfaced when the cartilage gets completely worn out. With more number of young patients found suffering from ageing ailments, partial knee replacement becomes a good option. The beauty of the procedure is its adaptability to Indian cultural requirements of squatting and sitting cross-legged.
Unlike other invasive procedures, partial knee replacement can be performed through a small incision over the patient’s knee. It also helps in the preservation of our natural bone and tissue with more ideal patient-specific positioning, thereby giving a natural feel.
Partial knee replacement is a very successful procedure in young arthritis where the disease is confined to the medial compartment of the knee. Added advantage of the procedure is that the knee can still be converted to a full replacement if for any reason a revision surgery is envisaged. The polyethylene articular insert is mobile and hence allowed to freely float on top of the tibial base which absorbs the shear stress and protects the bone interface. As it is mobile, the design can be customized conforming to the curve of the femur to spread the weight bearing capacity evenly thereby reducing its wear and stress.
—The writer is Head, Orthopedic & Traumatology, P.D. Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai