The knee joint undergoes a wide range of stress & motion throughout the day. Articulation between bones of the knee joint are lined with cartilage which apart from serving to keep the knee stable also reduces joint friction while absorbing shock. In some cases serious problems result when cartilage deteriorates & the patient may go into so much unbearable pain that they are unable to walk.
Causes of Damage to Knee Cartilage
There are several causes for loss of cartilage cushion within the knee joint. High impact activities & traumatic injury can directly damage knee cartilage while indirect damage due to degeneration is caused by osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is generally characterized by breakdown of joint cartilage, especially in weight-bearing joints of hands & legs. While rheumatoid arthritis is another cause where the defense mechanism of the body itself attacks the healthy joint, genetic defects are also found to predispose a person for damage to the knee joint.
Treatment Options for Damage to Knee Joint
Knee cartilage damage treatment options depend upon the extent of damage. It is enough for patients to wear braces, perform therapeutic exercises or adjust lifestyle changes for mild cartilage damage. However, with more extensive damage to cartilage it is necessary to undergo surgery for resurfacing cartilage & for removal of broken pieces of bone within the knee joint. But for more severe cases of bone grinding against bone, knee joint replacement surgery may become essential.
Total Knee Replacement Surgery
Total knee replacement surgery procedure is basically resurfacing of the knee joint. While knee replacement types earlier used to be modeled after hinges, but nowadays total knee replacement prostheses effectively duplicate knee joints so as to allow for natural motion. Moreover, orthopedists can choose from a variety of total knee replacement surgery implants depending upon specific requirement of patients. Like for example, quite a few knee replacement prostheses are larger in size so as to replace significant amount bone-loss while others are simply made to save ligaments of knee.
Uni-compartmental Knee Replacement Surgery
Also known as partial knee replacement surgery, uni-compartmental knee replacement procedure involves an operation process which is quite similar to that which is utilized in total knee replacement surgery. The difference is that instead of replacing the entire knee, partial knee replacement prosthesis replaces any one condyle or a single side of the knee joint. Since the partial knee prosthesis replaces only one side of a knee, the orthopedic surgeon will not have to make a large incision like it is done during total knee replacement surgery. This procedure requires just a three-inch incision in order to access the side of the knee. Due to the small size of incision, this procedure also decreases risk of complications & loss of blood as well. Therefore, patients undergoing partial knee replacement surgery will not require any blood transfusion during the operation.
This treatment option involves injecting a fluid which is meant to replace or supplement natural synovial fluid within the knee joint capsule. Synovial fluid is found to be less viscous & less elastic than normal in several cases of osteoarthritis. This injection affords more lubrication & cushioning which is required for articular cartilage in osteoarthritis patients. There are many types of viscosupplement injections which are available in the market. Procedure for injecting this fluid is simple. Orthopedists will clean the injection site & first aspirate the synovial fluid located within the knee joint. Subsequently they will use the same needle for injecting the viscosupplement. Most patients however are found to show best response after 2 – 3 months following a three-injection treatment cycle.
Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation
Autologous tissue consists of tissue which had been donated earlier for one’s own future use. Chondrocyte cells in this case are harvested from healthy areas of the knee joints & subsequently grown in vitro. These cultured cells are ideally used to repair defects within the articular cartilage of the knee joint. Obtaining chondrocyte cells for knee cartilage damage treatment requires the orthopedic surgeon to first perform an arthroscopic biopsy which is designed to remove some amount of healthy cartilage from non-weight-bearing portions of femur. These cells are then cultured for 3 – 4 weeks of time & autologous cells are harvested for the procedure. The second implantation surgery follows after the surgeon receives cultured cells from the laboratory. During the operation, the orthopedic surgeon will make a 6 – 8 inch incision in knee & flex the joint so as to expose the defect. Edges of the defective cartilage are then debridged or cut away in order to leave vertical margins around the area of defect.
Affordable Knee Cartilage Damage Treatment in India
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Cost of total knee surgery in India is just a fraction of what it would take in advanced & developed western countries like Germany, UK, Canada, & United States; while the quality of treatment is at par with the best in the world, if not better. However, while deciding upon the type of treatment, doctors first need to understand the patients’ requirement & the difference between treatments. Moreover, costs for each procedure widely vary depending upon a number of factors, therefore, especially international patients seeking knee damage treatments in India must essentially indulge in cost comparison of knee replacement surgery across various global medical tourism destinations in order to find out which country can offer them the best deals.