Knee Replacement

Knee Replacement Surgery in New Jersey

The knees are durable joints that withstand tremendous amounts of pressure as we walk, bend, stretch and carry weight on a daily basis. Although they were built for durability, knees naturally degrade over time. When wear-and-tear takes its toll, physical therapy and other procedures can help manage pain and preserve flexibility. In advanced cases, surgical intervention such as partial or total knee replacement is sometimes necessary to relieve pain and regain mobility when other therapies fail.

Knee Structure

The knee is the place where the two long bones of the leg (the tibia and femur) meet. The knee joint is held together by muscles, ligaments and tendons. Cartilage surrounds and protects the ends of the tibia and femur. The meniscus is a large, curved portion of cartilage that is crucial to providing shock absorption and protection to the knee.

Surrounding the knee are two muscle groups, the quadriceps and hamstrings. Located on the front of the thigh, the quadriceps help straighten the leg, while the hamstring muscles located at the back of the thigh help the leg bend.

Additionally, tendons act as connective tissue to attach the muscle groups to the bone and help facilitate the movement of the joint.

As one can see, the knee is a complex structure, and when one or more of its components become damaged, it can result in discomfort and problems with mobility.

What Is Knee Replacement Surgery?

Also known as knee arthroplasty, knee replacement is an orthopedic surgery that involves removing the damaged cartilage and bone from the knee and replacing it with an artificial joint, or prosthesis. Made with high-grade plastics and metal alloys, the new joint is designed to provide the support, flexibility and range of motion of a healthy, natural knee.

Joint replacement surgery is on the rise. According to the American Joint Replacement Registry Annual Report (AJRR), over 2.2 million hip and knee procedures were performed in the United States in 2021. The procedures took place across 1,150 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and private practice groups.

The total number of Americans living with a hip or knee replacement is estimated to be around 7 million, according to the National Library of Medicine.

What Conditions Lead to Needing Knee Replacement Surgery?

Knee replacement surgery is needed when the bone and cartilage become diseased or worn down. When the cartilage surrounding the joint erodes, it leads to a painful condition in which one bone rubs up against another. Common causes of knee replacement surgery include:

  • Osteoarthritis. This degenerative condition is the leading contributing cause of knee replacements that is characterized primarily by the destruction of cartilage and narrowing of the joint space.
  • Osteonecrosis. Also known as ischemic necrosis of bone, this condition occurs when the flow of blood to a bone is disrupted. Lack of blood flow results in the death of the affected tissue, which causes the breakdown of the bone and eventual joint collapse.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. This inflammatory disease occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the joints and joint linings of the body. This can affect the hands, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles, and lead to damaged cartilage if left untreated. As cartilage serves to protect the ends of bones and facilitates joint motion, the loss of it can then result in bone erosion, bone loss and joint instability. This systemic disease can also affect other bodily systems, such as the respiratory or cardiovascular system.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis. This form of osteoarthritis occurs from an inflammation in your joints that forms after you’ve endured a trauma, such as a car accident or injury involving heavy machinery.
  • Fractures. Complex bone breaks and fractures resulting from sports injuries or trauma can accelerate the wear and tear on cartilage, bones and joints. If untreated, some cases can cause the cartilage to erode, which leads to a painful condition from bone-on-bone contact at the joints.
  • Congenital deformities. Certain genetic diseases cause the malformation of one or more joints, resulting in hyperextension or hyperflexion, or other issues that prevent knees from functioning as they should. Many are considered pediatric in nature, as they are present at birth. One such disorder is congenital knee dislocation, which is characterized by a knee that appears sideways or backward.

Am I a Candidate for Knee Replacement Surgery?

If you are suffering from knee pain, whether it is the result of an accident, aging or of unknown origin, it is important to get medical advice from an orthopedic physician or surgeon. A medical examination allows a physician to identify and assess the cause of your knee pain and the progression of the illness if present.

Before advising knee replacement surgery, your doctor may counsel you on lifestyle changes such as weight loss, exercise or a healthy diet that may strengthen your body and alleviate pressure on your knees. Your doctor may also prescribe treatments and therapies to help manage pain and restore mobility. They may include:

  • Physical therapy. Rehab and strengthening exercises can condition the body and improve the range of motion.
  • Cortisone injections. Administered in the affected joint, they can reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Lubricating injections. Administered in the affected joint, they facilitate ease of joint movement.
  • Prescribing supplements. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can help protect cartilage structure and help reduce pain.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications. These reduce swelling and can ease pain.
  • Prescribing pain medications. Doctors may prescribe pain medications as needed.

Partial and Total Knee Replacement

RWJBarnabas Health, the largest healthcare network in New Jersey, offers advanced knee replacement surgery led by board-certified orthopedic surgeons and physicians. We guide patients through every stage of their knee replacement journey, from preoperative preparation to at-home recovery.

With investments in the latest technologies, including state-of-the-art robotic surgical systems, we are able to offer safer, less-invasive knee surgeries with faster recovery times. Our orthopedic surgeons are some of the most experienced in the region.

We are pleased to offer robotically assisted surgery, including MAKOplasty, a modern technology that allows surgeons to utilize a surgical robot and camera to view and perform highly precise and minimally invasive knee replacement procedures. Using smaller incisions, we perform procedures that are associated with less discomfort and shorter recovery times.

Total Knee Replacement

Total knee replacement, also known as knee arthroplasty, is performed when conservative treatment has failed for chronic knee pain and serious injuries. In this procedure, the damaged joint is replaced with a prosthetic that functions similar to the original knee.

Most knee replacement surgery patients are discharged from the hospital the day after surgery. Full recovery can take 6 to 12 weeks, and most patients participate in a physical therapy program.

One option that we provide is the Biomet Custom Knee system, which allows us to create highly detailed prosthetics customized for each patient. This system creates a 3D image of the patient’s knee to design a prosthetic that closely matches the original structure. This technology can increase the rate of successful knee replacement surgeries and reduced patient recovery time.

Partial Knee Replacement

Knee damage that has been confined to one area can be treated with a partial knee replacement, also known as unicompartmental knee replacement. Partial knee replacement can be performed with minimally invasive techniques. This procedure has benefits including:

  • Quicker recovery time; many patients can return home on the day of surgery
  • Less pain management
  • Shorter rehabilitation period
  • Minimal blood loss

Patellofemoral Replacement

The patellofemoral joint is where bones of the legs connect behind the kneecap (patella) with a complex network of ligaments and muscles. Patients who experience pain only at the front of the knee may have sustained arthritic damage to the kneecap alone. If this is the case, they may be a candidate for patellofemoral replacement. This procedure involves a partial knee replacement where the back of the kneecap is resurfaced with an implant. This treatment is often recommended for patients with degenerative arthritis, cartilage deterioration and kneecap fractures. It is crucial to determine the cause of knee pain when deciding the appropriate course of treatment.

Knee Revision Surgery

When knee replacements fail, they may need to be replaced, in whole or in part. Sometimes older parts wear out or cause wear on the bones, or infection. Knee revision surgery is surgery in which part or all of the implanted prosthetic parts from a previous knee replacement are replaced with newer components. At RWJBarnabas Health facilities, our highly skilled, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons are experts in performing this complex procedure.

Leading-Edge Technologies at RWJBarnabas Health

If you are seeking a knee surgeon in New Jersey, consider RWJBarnabas Health. We are an award-winning medical network led by highly skilled surgeons with facilities that are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment instrumental in identifying and treating many sources of knee pain. Some of our technologies include:

Do you feel that knee replacement may be right for you? Make an appointment with our compassionate orthopedic team today.

Request an Appointment

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