If the damage from knee OA is restricted to one side of the joint only, your doctor may suggest an operation that will safeguard the healthy side. The procedure involves resurfacing only the diseased or affected side of the knee with metal and plastic, and it is usually called ‘unicompartmental knee replacement’, or, replacement of just one compartment of the knee.
The procedure involves smaller incisions, quicker recovery time and less blood loss than a total knee replacement. It does, however, still require anaesthesia, either regional or general. The disadvantages of partial knee replacement compared with total knee replacement include less predictable pain relief, and the potential need for more surgery in the future, if arthritis develops in the parts of the knee that have not been replaced.
After surgery, post-operative physio is required and patients may need to use mobility aids (e.g. walking frames, canes, crutches) for the first days or weeks until they become comfortable enough to walk without assistance. Patients can usually resume their regular activities six weeks after a partial knee replacement surgery.