If you’ve been experiencing persistent knee pain for a few months or years — and nothing seems to alleviate the pain — it may be time to consider a total knee replacement.
We talked in great length about 5 telltale signs it might be time for a total knee replacement in this article, so if you’re on the fence about needing one, be sure to check that out for more help.
The easiest way to find out if you’re a good candidate for a total knee replacement is to take our free quiz: the knee function assessment..
When it’s time to research your options for total knee replacement surgery, you’ll come across kinematically aligned knee replacement and mechanical alignment.
What’s the difference?
Today we’re going to dive into the ins and outs between a kinematically aligned knee replacement and a mechanical one.
You may be familiar with a traditional, or mechanical knee replacement, so let’s start with that one first.
Understanding a Mechanical Knee Replacement
When you have total knee replacement surgery, an implant will be placed where your knee is to replace what’s worn out and give your knee a second life.
A mechanically aligned knee replacement places the implant in an “average” position for all patients.
Unfortunately, because each of our knees and bodies are not alike, a mechanically aligned total knee replacement often changes the natural alignment of both your knee and your leg itself.
Because of this, 20–25% of patients with mechanically aligned total knee replacements complain of pain, stiffness, and instability despite having the surgical intervention, according to current orthopedic research.
So how does a mechanical knee replacement compare to a kinematically aligned one?
A Kinematically Aligned Approach to Knee Replacements
The first kinematically aligned total knee replacement was performed by Dr. Howell in 2006.
With this procedure, the implant is custom positioned right on the joint line of your knee to help naturally align your knee with your implant.
Because of this customized position, kinematically aligned total knee replacement may bring your knee back to your pre-arthritis days.
Patients who have undergone a kinematic alignment reported significantly better pain relief, function, and bending of the knee when compared to patients who chose a mechanical knee replacement.
The kinematically aligned knee replacement patients also reported that their knee returned back to normal fairly quickly after surgery. That means you’ll enjoy a shorter, more comfortable recovery time. You should be walking without a cane and driving a car within 4 weeks of surgery.
Many of these benefits are due to the fact that kinematically alignment uses caliper measurements to adjust the position of the implants to within 1/2 of a millimeter. Half millimeter adjustments are much more accurate than robotics and navigational instruments, which are used to perform mechanic alignment.
Kinematically aligned knee replacements are a minimally invasive surgical (MIS) procedure with a low risk of infection and a very low risk of complications. Because your knee ligaments are not releases as they often are in mechanical alignment the risk of a blood transfusion is negligible.
The kinematically aligned total knee replacement surgery itself is short and typically takes less than 40 minutes. And 90% of patients only require one overnight stay in a hospital. Readmission rate? Also super low.
When it comes to having a total knee replacement, the choice is pretty clear, as you’ll see next.
Which Total Knee Replacement is Right For You?
Kinematically aligned knee replacements offer patients a customized and natural positioning of the implants, a faster recovery time, less pain overall, and better satisfaction in the long run, making them the clear cut winner here.
Many patients report that their kinetically aligned knee replacement feels like their knee is back to its pre-arthritis days.
On top of that, the implant survival at three, six and up to nine years are also equivalent or better than mechanical knee replacements. That means this investment in your health will last just as long, if not longer, than traditional methods.
Now that you have a better idea of the differences between a mechanical knee replacement and a kinematically aligned one, there’s one more thing you’ll need to figure out: finding the right surgeon.
Find a Surgeon With Experience
While some doctors have experience with mechanically aligned knee replacements, not everyone has the knowledge and skill to perform a kinematically aligned one.
That’s why it’s important to choose a surgeon with experience handling this type of procedure specifically.
Dr. Stephen Howell is the designer and first surgeon to ever perform a kinematically aligned total knee replacement, which he has done in over 4,000 knees since 2006.
Dr. Howell’s kinematic alignment procedures boast an average length of stay of only 1.3 days, as opposed to the national average of 3.1 days. That means you’ll be able to go home sooner and get back to your normal activities faster.
His readmission and major complication rates are also 1% and 1.7%, respectively, way below the national average.
Dr. Howell’s outcome rates are so successful he’s part of the top 3% of surgeons in California.
Thanks to his skill and expertise, Dr. Howell’s patients report better pain relief, greater function, easier bending of the knee, and a more normal-feeling limb overall.
When you compare those results to traditional, mechanical alignment methods, there’s no question which is right for you.
Choosing the right surgeon is what makes all the difference.
If you’re ready to meet Dr. Howell and his team and discuss how to get started with a kinematically aligned total knee replacement, visit this page today.
Still unsure if you need a total knee replacement right now or later down the road? Take our free quiz: the knee function assessment for more direction.