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Treatment Orthopedics

Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Medications, changing your activity level and using walking supports may be helpful but if these are not effective, you may want to consider knee surgery. Inability to tolerate or complications from pain medications or failure to substantially improve with other treatments such as cortisone injections, physical therapy or other surgeries may suggest a knee operation. There are two surgical treatments for osteoarthritis of the knee.

An osteotomy is surgery that reshapes the shinbone (tibia) or thighbone (femur) to improve your knee's alignment. The healthy bone and cartilage is realigned to compensate for the damaged tissue. Knee osteotomy surgically repositions the joint, realigning the mechanical axis of the limb away from the diseased area. This lets your knee glide freely and carry weight evenly. Osteotomies may restore knee function and significantly diminish osteoarthritis pain.

Total knee replacement surgery is another procedure that can help relieve your pain, correct your leg deformity and help you resume your normal activities. This procedure calls for removing the damaged cartilage and bone and inserting new metal and plastic joint surfaces to restore the alignment and function of your knee. The decision to have total knee replacement surgery should involve you, your family, your family physician and your orthopedic surgeon.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.

Recommended reading

Preparing for Knee Replacement Surgery

If you and your surgeon decide that knee replacement surgery is the best treatment for you, our medical team will give you the information you need to prepare.

Recovering from Knee Replacement Surgery

The typical hospital stay after knee replacement is one night, but some patients stay longer, while others go home on their surgery day. Learn more here.

Take Care of Your Knees

Although collateral ligament injuries can be difficult to avoid, here are several steps you can take to improve the strength and flexibility of your knees.

Seeking care at UCSF Health

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