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Published on November 24, 2020

physician examining mans knee

Should I Replace Both Knees at Once?

If exercise injections and physical therapy aren’t helping with knee pain your provider might suggest knee replacement as the next best step.

Total knee replacement surgery is the most extensive solution, and in some cases, patients are best served when both knees are done at the same time.

Seth Christensen, DO, Avera Orthopedics, considers each patient individually when providing advice on whether this is the best option.

“Patient choice is the No. 1 factor,” said Christensen. “The patient must be generally healthy – no chronic conditions like diabetes, and they cannot be obese. They’re basically a person in good health who has two bad knees.”

Advantages to Both Knees at Once

The benefits of doing the procedures at the same time are simple:

  • Less recovery time
  • Less cost
  • Fewer trips to the hospital for surgery
  • Two good knees as opposed to one

Some patients who have one knee replaced can have difficulties with recovery.

“Some people have crooked legs, or one leg that is slightly longer, and so their therapy and recovery after surgery is tough – one knee is good and one isn’t,” said Christensen. “Replacing both – when that option is available – is something I recommend.”

Patients must also be ready to be in surgery longer, however.

“A bilateral replacement of the knees requires a surgeon who can work accurately and quickly, because the longer a patient is under anesthesia, the more likely there can be complications,” Christensen said.

Types of Knee Surgeries

  • Arthroscopy is when surgeons make a small incision and use minimally invasive techniques to “clean up” the joint.
  • Arthroplasty is more serious – it involves replacement of the end of bones near the joint with metal and plastic replacement parts. That procedure can be either partial or full, depending on the extent of damage to the joint’s parts.
  • Total knee replacement surgery is the most extensive solution, and in some cases, patients are best served when both knees are surgically treated at once.

Christensen also said that while surgery is scary for every patient, surgeons will help patients discuss the best possible options.

“When I talk to patients, I like to think of them as my mom or dad, and the advice I give would be the same I would to my family,” he said. “Beyond the innovative technology, that sort of connection is vital in the overall success of the procedure.”

Some of the innovations available include robotic-assisted orthopedic surgery. Christensen offers it in his practice, making use of the Mako SmartRobotics™ technology, which adds precision and accuracy.

Joint replacement can address pain in many of our joints. If you’re having knee pain, an orthopedic specialist can discuss a plan of action best for you.

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