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Knee Osteotomy

Knee Osteotomy Overview

Arthritis of the knee affects millions of individuals and can make everyday activities difficult. Arthritis is generally caused by degeneration of the knee’s cartilage, a previous injury or trauma to the knee or a hereditary predisposition, leading to pain, swelling and stiffness in the knee joint. If a patient suffers from osteoarthritis and is not a candidate for total knee replacement or a patient wants to prolong the replacement, a knee arthritis treatment called a knee osteotomy may alleviate pain and improve function.

A knee osteotomy is a surgical procedure typically reserved for patients who have damage on just one side of the knee joint. During this procedure, Dr. Waterman will cut either the tibia (shin bone) or femur (thigh bone) and then reshape the bone to relieve pressure on the joint, leading to decreased pain and increased function. While highly effective, this knee arthritis treatment is not a permanent solution and but is designed to offer improvement to the symptoms of knee joint arthritis including pain and functional deficits, and delay the need for total knee replacement, often by 8-10 years.

During this knee arthritis treatment, Dr. Waterman will remove a wedge of bone from the upper tibia or lower femur which will shift the body’s weight off the damaged area and onto the healthier portion of cartilage. Dr. Waterman may also perform an opening wedge osteotomy where he utilizes plates and screws to hold the knee bones in a newly aligned position, as well as adding bone graft to the osteotomy for faster healing.

Recovery and Rehabilitation after Knee Osteotomy

Although commonly performed as an outpatient, some patients may require an overnight stay in the hospital following an osteotomy. In some cases the procedure may be combined with other procedures to replace or restore the knee cartilage. Outpatient care includes a physical therapy program to control swelling, reactivate muscles and increase range of motion. The majority of patients are non-weight bearing on crutches for approximately four to six weeks following the knee arthritis treatment. Patients will progressively be weaned off crutches after six week mark after a thorough review of X-rays. Patients can expect a substantial increase in knee function at approximately four to six months after surgery in most cases.

At a Glance

Dr. Brian Waterman, MD

  • Chief & Fellowship Director, Sports Medicine, Wake Forest
  • Team Physician, Wake Forest University, Chicago White Sox
  • Military affiliation/Decorated military officer and surgeon
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