Much has been said about high incidence of diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and HIV in India. A recent study suggests that osteoarthritis beats them all to claim the first slot among ailments in India. Over 18 crore Indians suffer from joint-related problems and the cases are expected to grow further.
Arthritis is not a symptom of ‘getting old’. It is a degenerative disease of the joints that is not necessarily a part of the aging process. It curbs daily activities such as climbing stairs, walking, and even getting in and out of the bed. It can make people feel old, even when they are in the prime of their life. It is so incapacitating that a few patients even suffer from depression due to this. So far, there were no satisfactory options for them, except for physiotherapy, painkillers and activity restriction. Some had to undergo total knee replacement. But now, there is hope due to a high precision, minimally invasive surgery, which provides immediate pain relief, fast recovery and fast return to an active lifestyle.
Multi-compartmental knee replacement(MKR) is an advanced technique of bone preservation introduced in the Country by Dr Manuj Wadhwa, a joint replacement surgeon. In MKR, only the damaged part of the knee is replaced and remaining area is preserved. As the surgery is technically demanding, it is done by a limited number of surgeons worldwide.
Mostly osteoarthritis starts with wear and tear of the inner compartment. If the pain of arthritis cannot be relieved by conventional treatment, one needs to replace the worn cushion in the inner compartment. This is now possible due to MKR. “The technology does not require the entire joint to be replaced. Only a small area is fixed surgically, promising unconstrained and quality motion, and easy flexion of the joint,” Dr Wadhwa says.
These prevent bone ends from rubbing against each other and provides instant pain relief. Rest of the joint is preserved unlike in total knee replacement. MKR is beneficial for younger age group unlike total knee replacement, which is best suited for the elderly.
The surgery is done by a small cut (5-6 cm long) in front of the knee. Patients can start walking the same day and can go home within 24 hours. Most patients can participate in low impact sports as well. This option is far more economical and affordable than a total knee replacement.
The operation is performed under epidural anaesthesia (where only the legs are numbed), risk and complications of general anaesthesia are eliminated. With this advanced surgical technique and modern physiotherapy, patients regain full movement and are home by the next day. Should the rest of the joint deteriorate in future (as it may in 8-10 years), it can easily be converted to a total knee replacement.
With these dramatic advances in knee surgery, patients can look forward to successfully overcoming arthritis at an early stage of the disease and returning to an active lifestyle once more.