Knee replacement surgery is unfortunately a very common occurrence in the United States. According to statistics, a patient undergoes a knee replacement surgery every 45 seconds. By the year 2030, the number is expected to explode by nearly 400 percent, to around 500,000 patients per year. The majority of replacements are caused by a breakdown of cartilage, more specifically the meniscus, in patients’ knees. Around half of these injuries occur in avid joggers, with many being older adults who are already at risk for joint problems.
When a person has a damaged meniscus, or the cartilage between the thigh and shinbone, they may not know it at first. Running with this type of injury can lead to developing arthritis and/or chronic knee pain. In the past, most of these patients would require knee replacement surgery, which can often take multiple rounds of invasive procedures to help the meniscus heal. Unfortunately, even after having a knee replacement surgery, not all people fully recover from their pain symptoms.
However, a new surgery that would implant an artificial meniscus in the knee may be the future of knee replacement surgeries. In a clinical trial conducted by surgeons at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, a plastic meniscus device was implanted in a patient’s knee. It is hoped that the device would restore function the already damaged meniscus within. The goal of the study was find a way to help treat patients who suffer these severe cartilage tears.
With this new procedure, patients will be able to avoid the use of braces of protected weight bearing. Not only will this treatment hopefully reduce pain levels in patients, but also prevent the need for any future knee replacement surgeries. With the large amount of people suffering from knee cartilage damage every year, this treatment may be an innovative way to speed up the recovery process and increase the levels of post-op activity. The meniscus is one of the most important components of the knee joint, and keeping it safe and sound should be one of the foremost goals for active runners and older adults in order to prevent long-term damage.
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