Knee pain is a problem that affects people of all ages. It may be the result of an injury, such as a torn ligament, or a medical condition, such as arthritis. Many types of knee pain can be treated by non-surgical methods, including physical therapy and bracing. However, some knee issues require surgical treatment.
The knee specialists at the MedStar Orthopaedic Institute have extensive experience diagnosing and treating a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. These physicians work as a multidisciplinary team with other orthopedic specialists, as well as with our team of physical therapists, to determine what course of treatment will provide the best possible outcome for you. Our specialists recommend non-surgical treatment options prior to performing surgery, whenever possible.
If you do require surgery, such as knee replacement surgery, our specialists will educate you about your options and work with you and your family to determine what procedure will work best for you. Below are some of the other surgical procedures our knee specialists perform.
ACL Knee Surgery
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) can be torn if your knee is pulled or twisted in an unnatural way. Injuries to the ACL are especially common in sports where side-to-side or pivoting movement of the knee is required; soccer, basketball, skiing, and football are frequent culprits. An injured ACL is associated with the following symptoms:
- An audible pop or snapping upon injury
- Immediate and sustained swelling in the knee
- Instability in the knee that can cause it to give out
- Inability to bear weight
- Significant pain that does not diminish in the hours following the injury
- A feeling of fullness in the knee
Elderly, less active patients may not require surgery following an ACL injury—if the overall stability of your knee is healthy and you have a low activity level, your physician may recommend non-surgical options. For young athletes, however, surgery is usually needed. The torn ligament must be repaired or replaced with a tissue graft.
ACL reconstruction involves the process of replacing your torn ACL with a tissue graft, which will form the base for the new ligament to grow on. This surgery is minimally invasive, as it is performed arthroscopically through small puncture holes.
During the procedure, your surgeon will place a graft in the location of your torn ACL and hold it in place by a fixation device, such as a screw. The surgery can be performed in about an hour, and you can return home the same day.
You will typically need to have physical therapy following the surgery in order to first return motion to the joint and surrounding muscles and then build strength to protect the new ACL.
Our surgeons now offer an alternative to ACL reconstruction called ACL repair. This cutting-edge procedure serves to preserve your ACL rather than replace it, providing a faster recovery and less chance of reinjury.
During this minimally invasive procedure, your orthopedic surgeon:
- Creates small incisions in your knee to reduce scarring
- Repairs your torn ACL by suturing the tendon back together
- Uses a very strong, braided suture at the tear site to provide additional support and prevent ACL rupture
This minimally invasive procedure is not for everyone, so your surgeon will help to determine if this is the best option for you.
Meniscus Knee Surgery
The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that serves as a shock absorber between the ends of your leg bones, helps lubricate the joint and distributes body weight across the joint. Meniscal tears are typically caused by twisting or hyperflexing the joint. These tears can also occur due to degenerative processes caused by aging.
Meniscal Tear Repair
Many meniscal tears can be treated without surgery, so if you are diagnosed with a torn meniscus, your specialist will work with you to determine if a non-surgical treatment option is right for you. However, if you require surgery, we offer the following treatments:
- Knee arthroscopy: a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that can be performed in under an hour. Your physician repairs or removes your torn meniscus through small holes in the knee.
- Meniscus transplant: a procedure performed only if you have a severe tear that requires all or almost all of your meniscus cartilage to be removed. Your surgeon uses an arthroscope and small incisions to plant a new cartilage ring (from a tissue bank) in your knee. Any remaining tissue from your old meniscus is shaved away.