In a total knee replacement, both the medial and lateral part of the knee are replaced.
In partial knee replacement, just one component – either the medial or the lateral – is damaged or deteriorated and requires replacement. The damaged tissue is removed and replaced with a prosthetic implant.
Partial knee replacement is recommendable when there's damaged bone and tissue in only one aspect of your knee, and conservative treatments haven’t helped. You must also be a good candidate for surgery; i.e., in good enough health to have surgery and heal after surgery.
First, your practitioner either administers general or regional anesthesia to ensure you don’t experience pain during the procedure. Next, they make an incision on your knee.
The surgeon uses this incision to examine the joint for damage. In some cases, they may find that a total knee replacement is necessary once he or she can visualize the joint accurately.
Your surgeon then removes and replaces the damaged tissue and bone with a prosthetic implant, which they cement into place, and then stitches the wound shut.
Most patients can walk without the use of an assistive device -- like a walker or a cane -- about four weeks after surgery. You'll have to do physical therapy for as long as six months following surgery.
Patients who are hoping to return to work can return one to three months after surgery depending on the physical demands of their occupation.
The vast majority of patients have no complications from knee surgery and achieve pain relief and improved mobility. You’ll be able to do most of the things you were able to do before you began to experience deterioration in your knee, except extreme sports.
Over time, your prosthetic knee will wear down and may require replacement. About 10% of patients need replacement within 10 years of their first partial knee replacement.