Orthopedic Knee Surgery for Osteoarthritis in Quebec: What You Need to Know

Over 4 million Canadians, or approximately 1 in 7 adults, are affected by knee osteoarthritis, the most prevalent form of arthritis in the country​​. Source: ASC (Arthritis Society Canada, www.arthritis.ca/about-arthritis/what-is-arthritis/arthritis-facts-and-figures)

 

Your knee is causing you pain and limiting your daily activities. The diagnosis is in: you suffer from knee osteoarthritis. This degenerative disease leads to the wear of joint cartilage and changes to the subchondral bone. Fortunately, there are treatments to relieve your symptoms and improve your mobility.

Orthopedic surgery, such as total knee replacement, is an effective therapeutic option for treating severe osteoarthritis when other conservative treatments are no longer sufficient. Before considering surgery, it’s important to understand the pathology, the available treatment options, and the postoperative recovery process.

This article provides an overview of knee osteoarthritis and orthopedic care in Quebec to guide you on your path to better health and quality of life.

 

What is Knee Osteoarthritis?

Knee osteoarthritis is a common degenerative joint disease characterized by a progressive deterioration of the joint cartilage. Cartilage is the smooth, elastic tissue that covers the ends of bones in joints. With osteoarthritis, this cartilage wears away and thins over time, causing friction and irritation during movement.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of knee osteoarthritis are:

  • Pain, stiffness, and tenderness in the knee, especially after a period of inactivity or at the end of the day.
  • Cracking or grinding noises during knee movements.
  • Decreased mobility and flexibility of the knee.
  • Swelling of the knee, particularly after physical activity.

Risk Factors

Several factors can increase the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis:

  • Age: The risk increases after 65 years.
  • Overweight or obesity: Excess weight puts additional pressure on knee joints.
  • History of injuries: Previous sprains, fractures, or ligament injuries to the knee.
  • Genetics: Some types of knee osteoarthritis are linked to genetic factors.
  • Professions and activities: Jobs requiring long periods of standing or walking, or repetitive knee bending activities.

Knee osteoarthritis typically progresses slowly and steadily. While there’s currently no treatment to reverse cartilage damage, early diagnosis and management can help slow the disease’s progression and control symptoms.

When to Consider Orthopedic Knee Surgery?

When suffering from knee osteoarthritis, there may come a time when conservative treatments such as physiotherapy, painkillers, or cortisone injections no longer provide adequate pain relief or mobility improvement. In this case, your doctor might recommend surgical intervention to repair or replace the damaged joint.

When does orthopedic knee surgery become necessary?

Surgery might be recommended if:

  • You suffer from persistent knee pain despite optimal medical treatment.
  • Your joint is deformed or unstable.
  • You have difficulty performing simple tasks like climbing stairs, getting up from a chair, or walking long distances.
  • Your quality of life is significantly diminished by knee osteoarthritis.
  • You show signs of chronic inflammation like persistent swelling or morning stiffness.
  • Your X-rays show advanced joint degeneration with little remaining cartilage.

When osteoarthritis is at an advanced stage, orthopedic surgery can not only alleviate pain and improve mobility but also halt or slow the progression of joint damage. The most common procedures are arthroplasty (partial or total knee replacement) and arthrodesis (fusion of knee bones).

Orthopedic Knee Surgery Options in Quebec

There are several surgical interventions available for treating knee osteoarthritis in Quebec. Your orthopedic surgeon will determine the most suitable option based on the severity of your osteoarthritis and your overall health.

Knee Arthroscopy

Knee arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure used for diagnosing and treating joint lesions. Small incisions are made to insert an arthroscope and surgical instruments into the knee joint. Arthroscopy can relieve pain and improve mobility, but the benefits are often temporary for severe osteoarthritis.

Arthroscopic Lavage and Debridement

This procedure involves rinsing and removing inflammatory tissues and debris from the knee joint. It may provide temporary pain relief and functional improvement, but the beneficial effects usually diminish after a few months.

Tibial Osteotomy

A tibial osteotomy alters the alignment of leg bones to relieve pressure on the arthritic knee joint. Bone portions are removed or added to correct knee misalignment. Although it can delay the need for a prosthesis, recovery is slow and painful.

Total or Partial Knee Replacement

As a last resort, your surgeon may recommend a total (total knee prosthesis) or partial (unicompartmental prosthesis) knee joint replacement. These major surgical procedures replace the damaged joint surfaces to alleviate pain, improve mobility and function. Full recovery can take from 6 months to 1 year.

Although the diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis might seem daunting, there are several treatment options available.

Finding a Good Orthopedic Surgeon in Quebec

Finding a good orthopedic surgeon in Quebec is a critical step in achieving good results from your knee surgery for osteoarthritis. Here are some tips to help you in your search:

Verify Qualifications and Experience

Ensure the surgeon is a duly qualified physician with certification in orthopedic surgery. Ideally, they should have several years of experience in knee surgery, especially with modern techniques like arthroscopy. Inquire about the number of knee surgeries they have performed and their success and complication rates.

Review Treatment Options

Discuss the treatment options available for your knee osteoarthritis, such as physiotherapy, medications, corticosteroid injections, or surgery. The surgeon should explain the risks and benefits of each option and recommend a personalized treatment plan based on the severity of your osteoarthritis and your overall health.

Understand the Recommended Surgical Procedure

If surgery is recommended, make sure you understand the procedure in detail, including the steps of the operation, the length of hospital stay, recovery, and rehabilitation. Discuss potential risks like infection or blood clots. Ask all the questions you might have.

Check Hospital Experience

Learn about the hospital’s experience in orthopedic surgery and ensure it has the necessary staff and equipment to safely perform your surgery.

By carefully choosing your orthopedic surgeon, you increase your chances of achieving the best possible results with your knee surgery. Take the time to find a physician you trust and with whom you can establish a good relationship. Your health and your quality of life depend on it.

 

Conclusion

If you suffer from knee osteoarthritis, know that there are effective treatment options in Quebec to relieve your pain and improve your mobility. Whether it’s physical therapy, cortisone injections, or surgical intervention such as arthroscopy or total knee prosthesis, highly qualified orthopedists in the province have the skills and cutting-edge technology to assist you.

While surgery may seem daunting, today’s minimally invasive techniques allow for quicker and less painful recovery. With the right treatment and some lifestyle adjustments, you can regain the ability to walk, run, and play with loved ones. Knee osteoarthritis doesn’t have to prevent you from fully enjoying life. Consult a doctor today to discuss your options and start alleviating your pain. Tomorrow, you might already be taking your first steps towards better health and greater mobility.