Knee pain is the most common problem in patients that Dr Tan sees. He recalls seeing a 69-year-old patient who was asking if there were any other alternatives to total knee replacement surgery for his condition. However, his knee arthritis was already too severe for other treatments to work.
The alternatives to total knee replacement surgery this patient had asked about can be broadly termed as knee preservation surgery. Knee preservation surgery primarily uses minimally invasive keyhole techniques to preserve vital knee components.
The vital components that determine the knee’s functionality include the menisci, cartilage and ligament:
- The menisci are the two crescent-shaped fibrous cartilges that stabilise and reduce impact to the knee joint. They can be surgically regenerated or partially removed, instead of entirely removed, if damaged. Studies have found that removing the menisci entirely would result in easier onset of knee arthritis.
- The cartilage is the tissue covering the bone end that lubricates the knee joint and reduce any impact. Any cartilage damage should be treated immediately to prevent its progression to a point where the cartilage can no longer be surgically regenerated.
Seeking early treatment is key to the viability of knee preservation surgery. No alternatives to total knee replacement would be available if the knee arthritis or other conditions gets too severe.