Younger patients affected with osteoarthritis often wish to maintain their active lifestyles, making the diagnosis very difficult. Osteoarthritis pain can be managed initially through conservative approaches, including RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation), pain medication, such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and physical therapy. Once osteoarthritis progresses and pain becomes unmanageable, surgical treatment should be considered.
To treat knee osteoarthritis, a surgical approach known as high tibial osteotomy has been shown to provide ten to fifteen years of pain relief and improved function. This procedure differs from other approaches, such as partial knee resurfacing and total knee replacement, as it does not remove the damaged knee joint; instead, high tibial osteotomy helps balance the weight load of a misaligned knee to more comfortably distribute weight.
High tibial osteotomy is recommended for patients that are affected by knee arthritis on only one side of the knee (unicompartmental knee osteoarthritis). This condition causes the affected side of the knee becomes brittle and diseased, with stiffness and pain resulting. High tibial osteotomy corrects deterioration of knee joint surfaces by realigning the leg and transferring body weight to the unaffected side of the knee.
Patients with bowed legs can develop unicompartmental knee arthritis, as the incorrect alignment causes improper balance of weight. This can impair walking ability and result in joint pain, even at rest. Over time, the improper balance of weight will deteriorate the protective cartilage in the knee joint, causing osteoarthritis, with many patients pursuing knee replacement surgery.
High tibial osteotomy surgery can improve stability in the knee and correct improper load balance. During this procedure, Dr. Biggs will remove a wedge of bone from the tibia, or shinbone. The surgeon will then mend the bone using a plate and screws or staples.
Patients that pursue high tibial osteotomy surgery often benefit for up to fifteen years of joint pain relief and restoration of range of motion. While patients may not be able to run or play sports competitively, the procedure is designed to allow patients to walk without discomfort. If adequate correction is achieved, patients will enjoy long-term joint pain relief.
Once the benefits of the procedure have diminished, the patient is a candidate for total knee replacement. This surgery can effectively eliminate joint pain, restore range of motion, and allow patients to return to daily activities without experiencing pain.
Board-certified orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. H. Kurtis Biggs, is committed to providing personalized orthopaedic care combined with state-of-the-art surgical procedures for safe and effective outcomes. With fellowship training in joint replacement at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic Foundation, as well as his experience in private practice in Ohio, Dr. Biggs brings his expertise and passion for innovative orthopaedic approaches to Naples and the South Florida region.