Knee pain

Protect Your Knees at Any Age

knee-painKnee problems are the most common reason people visit an orthopaedic or sports medicine surgeon. May seem like common sense, but if you want healthy knees later in life, start taking care of them now, even if you are young.

The knee is the largest and strongest joint in your body and the major support structure of all your lower extremities. Unfortunately, as people age, knee issues become more common. Possible knee symptoms are aches, stiffness, and swelling and are usually caused by two main factors.

First, as we age, we lose some of the natural cartilage that acts as a cushion between the four bones in your knee joint. Damage to, or wearing down of, the cartilage causes pain and makes it hard to do many everyday activities, such as walking or climbing stairs.

Second, if you play sports, live an active lifestyle, or have suffered a knee injury, it is likely you may experience future or further knee problems as you continue to age.

Obesity has more recently become a major risk factor for knee conditions such as arthritis, not only of the knee, but also the hip and ankle.

Now that we know the major causes of knee problems, what’s a person with aging knees to do? While you can’t stop the aging process, you can follow these key tips to protect your knees.

1. Monitor changes in your knee health and record any signs and symptoms to share with your orthopaedic physician.

Symptoms from the aging process may be knee pain, but swelling is another common indicator. With age and cartilage loss, the body naturally responds by trying to repair itself, so there may be fluid in the knee, which is the body’s way of trying to increase shock absorption and lubrication in the knee.

2. Maintain a healthy weight

Every extra pound you put on places about four 4 extra pounds of pressure on your knees. Getting rid of extra weight may help alleviate knee pain or cure it altogether.

3. Exercise

Living an active lifestyle and incorporating low impact exercise into your routine promotes healthy knees. Make sure you leave enough time to properly warm up and stretch before starting your activity. Strength training uses resistance to build strong muscles and flexibility in the skeletal muscles.

4. Don’t overdo it!

Make sure you do not ignore the ongoing knee pain. If you play sports, consider additional training to learn proper techniques and alignment. When doing squats and lunges, don’t bend your leg beyond a 90-degree angle and make sure your knee stays directly over your foot. If injured, try using the RICE method to relieve immediate pain and reduce swelling: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. And contact your healthcare provider if the pain persists or intensifies.

The team of knee specialists at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center includes orthopaedic surgeons, non-operative and sports medicine physicians, and trainers. At Emory, we offer the most advanced knee treatments in the Southeast, including anatomic ACL reconstruction, PRP knee therapy, meniscus repair, and more. To schedule an appointment, call 404-778-3350 or complete our online appointment request form.


About Dr. Spero Karas

karas-speroDr. Karas is the Director of the Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship Program and an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University. Dr. Karas is an internationally recognized expert in the field for sports medicine, surgery of the shoulder and knee, and arthroscopic surgery. He has been recognized as one of America’s “Top Orthopaedic Doctors” in Men’s Health Magazine and “Top Sports Medicine Specialists for Women” in Women’s Health Magazine. Atlanta Magazine has named him in “Atlanta’s Best Doctors” for the past eight years.

Dr. Karas came to Emory in 2005, after serving as Chief of the Shoulder Service and team physician at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He currently serves as head team physician and orthopedic surgeon for the Atlanta Falcons, as well as a consulting team physician for Emory University and Georgia Tech athletics. He cares for patients and athletes of all levels: professional, collegiate, scholastic, and recreational.

Using Heat and Cold to Treat Injury

back-painIt’s hard to get through life without straining a muscle, spraining a ligament, or wrenching your back. When something hurts, ice and heat are often the go-to solutions, and using temperature therapy to complement medications and self-care can be very effective. But while both heat and cold can help reduce pain, it can be confusing to decide which is more appropriate depending on the injury. Our tips below give you the facts on when to use (and not use) heat and cold therapies.

When to Use Cold Therapy

Cold is best for acute pain caused by recent tissue damage is used when the injury is recent, red, inflamed, or sensitive. The inflammatory process is a healthy, normal, natural process that also can be incredibly painful. Here are some examples of common acute injuries:

  • Ankle sprain
  • Muscle or joint sprain
  • Red, hot or swollen body part
  • Acute pain after intense exercise
  • Inflammatory arthritis flare ups

When you sprain something, you damage blood vessels causing swelling to occur. Applying something cold causes the blood vessels to constrict, reducing the swelling and limiting bruising. Cold therapy can also help relieve any inflammation or pain that occurs after exercise, which is a form of acute inflammation. However, unlike heat, you should apply ice after going for a run to reduce post-exercise inflammation.

Tips for Applying Cold

  • Cold should only be applied locally and should never be used for more than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Apply cold immediately after injury or intense, high-impact exercise.
  • Always wrap ice packs in a towel before applying to an affected area.
  • Do not use ice in areas where you have circulation problems.

When to Use Heat Therapy

While ice is used to treat acute pain, heat therapy is typically used for chronic pain or conditions. Unlike cold therapy’s ability to constrict blood vessels, heat allows for our blood vessels to expand and our muscles to relax. That’s why overworked muscles respond best to heat. Heat stimulates blood flow, relaxes spasms, and soothes sore muscles. Some common chronic conditions that heat is used to treat are:

  • Muscle pain or soreness
  • Arthritis
  • Stiff joints

Tips for Applying Heat

  • Unlike cold therapy, heat should be applied before exercising. Applying heat after exercise can aggravate existing pain.
  • Protect yourself from direct contact with heating devices. Wrapping heat sources in a folded towel can help prevent burns.
  • Stay hydrated during heat therapy.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to heating sources.

Low Level Heat

If you find that heat helps ease your pain, try a continuous low-level heat wrap, available at most drugstores. You can wear a heat wrap for up to 8 hours, even while you sleep.

What to Avoid

Heat can make inflammation worse, and ice can make muscle tension and spasms worse, so be careful. Just like anything else, don’t overdo it! It’s normal for your skin to be a little pink after using cold and heat therapies, but if you start to notice any major skin irritation like hives, blisters or swelling, you should call your doctor. Otherwise, use whatever works for you depending on your condition. Both ice and heat can be very effective if used correctly!

About Emory Sports Medicine Center

At the Emory Sports Medicine Center, our experts specialize in advanced procedures to treat and repair a wide range of sports related injuries. Recently recognized as one of the nation’s TOP 50 orthopaedics programs, Emory Orthopaedics, Sports and Spine has 6 convenient locations across metro Atlanta, as well as 6 physical therapy locations. Click to learn more >>

About Dr. Mines

mines-brandonDr. Brandon Mines is board certified in both family practice and sports medicine. He has focused his clinical interest on sports injuries and conditions of the shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand, knee, foot and ankle. He is head team physician for the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Atlanta Dream, Decatur High School and a team physician for NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. He is also a rotational physician for United States soccer teams.

Dr. Mines enjoys giving talks and lectures regarding the prevention of sports injuries. In fact, as an active member of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the American Society for Sports Medicine, Dr. Mines has attended and presented at various national conferences. Through the years, he has helped all levels of athletes return to the top of their game.

“I woke up pain free”: Words from an Emory Sports Medicine Center Patient

mskpatientThe two years of my life before visiting Dr. Kenneth Mautner at the Emory Sports Medicine Center were painful. I had moderate to severe pain in my right interior knee joint. My symptoms were stiffness, swelling and sharp pains while I was sleeping, walking and even driving!

Finally I decided to make an appointment with one of the largest and most visible orthopedic clinics in Atlanta. During my visit there, they took an X-ray of my knee and diagnosed me with early stage Osteoarthritis. The physician suggested I first use over the counter medication twice daily to treat the pain and occasionally receive cortisone shots to help with ongoing pain management. If that didn’t work, he said I would eventually need a knee replacement.

After getting this news, I was a little uneasy. I thought to myself, “There has to be another option besides daily medication that could hurt my liver, or surgery.” After much prayer and research, I was led to the Emory Sports Medicine Center. I watched several of the patient videos and marveled at the success stories, from different conditions like hip and knee to procedures like Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy and stem cell therapy.

Without hesitation I called and made an appointment to see Dr. Mautner! Once at Emory, Dr. Mautner ordered an MRI, which revealed a bad meniscus tear and early osteoarthritis. In May 2015, we started Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy, which took platelets from my blood and reinjected them back into my injured knee. The procedure took about 15 minutes and while it hurt, it was less painful than I expected.

The first nine days after the injection I experienced increased pain, but on the tenth day I woke up pain free and have not had any pain since! It’s amazing! The tissues around the joint have calmed and are not swollen. I have returned to my customary two-mile walk each day, and can go up and down hills and stairs. I can sleep and drive pain free.

I feel great and the treatment was worth every penny, which was minimal considering the wonderful benefits! Thank you Dr. Mautner and the team at Emory Sports Medicine Center.

Steve Alvarez
Patient, Emory Sports Medicine Center
Dunwoody, Georgia

Are you considering PRP therapy? If so, make sure it’s performed properly and with the right expert guidance. Learn more about why you should choose Emory Sports Medicine for PRP therapy.

About Dr. Mautner

mautner-kennethKenneth Mautner, MD, is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) with a subspecialty certification in Sports Medicine. He has a special interest in the areas of sports concussions, where he is regarded as a local and regional expert in the field. In 2005, he became one of the first doctors in Georgia to use office based neuropsychological testing to help determine return to play for athletes. He also is an expert in diagnostic and interventional musculoskeletal ultrasound and teaches both regional and national courses on how to perform office based ultrasound. He regularly performs Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections for patients with chronic tendinopathy.

Dr. Mautner also specializes in the care of athletes with spine problems as well as hip and groin injuries.

Dr. Mautner currently serves as head team physician for Agnes Scott College and St. Pius High School and a team physician for Emory University Athletics. He is also a consulting physician for Georgia Tech Athletics, Neuro Tour, the Atlanta Ballet, and several local high schools.

Takeaways from Dr. Mason’s Chat on How to Train and Prepare for Summer Running Races

Running Live ChatThank you for attending the live chat on How to Train and Prepare for Summer Running Races on Tuesday, June 9 with Emory Sports Medicine physician Amadeus Mason, MD. We had a great discussion, so thank you to all who participated and asked questions. From tips for preventing shin splints to advice on how to train for a 5K, we were thrilled with the number of people who were able to register and participate in the chat. (You can check out the transcript here).

The response was so great that we had a few questions we were not able to answer during the chat so we will answer them below for your reference.

Question: I have inflammation behind my knee. What can I do?

Amadeus Mason, MDDr. Mason: Inflammation behind the knee can be due to a number of knee conditions. Baker’s cyst are common and can be caused by injury to the knee, arthritis, damage to the cartilage of the knee, and other problems. Sprains (caused by overstretching and tearing of the stabilizing ligaments) can lead to swelling of the knee area as well.

Seek immediate medical attention if you are in serious pain, or are experiencing symptoms such as: paralysis, loss of sensation, absent pulses in the feet, the inability to move the knee joint, severe bleeding, chest pain, difficulty breathing, or uncontrollable pain.

Swelling behind the knee may not produce any other symptoms, but if your condition persists and continues to cause concern, seek an evaluation from a sports medicine physician or knee specialist.

Question: What is the best way to correct an IT band injury that has caused can imbalance and pain while running?

Amadeus Mason, MDDr. Mason: If treated appropriately with conservative treatment and resting of the affected area, IT Band Syndrome is usually curable within 6 weeks. If your injury was not appropriately treated, or not given adequate time to heal, the source of your current complications may be due to:

  • Chronically inflamed tendon and bursa, causing persistent pain with activity that may progress to constant pain.
  • Recurrence of symptoms if activity is resumed too soon through overuse, a direct blow, or poor training technique.
  • Inability to complete training or competition.

Until you are able to seek an evaluation from a sports medicine physician, I would discontinue the activity (ies) that are causing you pain so you do not further damage the iliotibial band.

Question: I get cramps in my calf when I run but not when walking. Is there a remedy?

Amadeus Mason, MDDr. Mason: Cramps are a result of a few factors, but dehydration and improper warm-up are the most common causes.

To prevent muscle cramps, runners need to consume enough fluid before exercising. Some healthy tips are:

  • Drink 16 to 20 ounces 45 minutes before training.
  • Drink 2 to 4 ounces every 15 minutes during a training session.
  • Before you begin your run, warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of low impact activity, like walking to warm up the muscles.

For more information about all our orthopedic and sports-related injuries, visit Emory Sports Medicine Center. Think you need to be evaluated by a sports medicine physician? To make an appointment with an Emory physician, please complete our online appointment request form or call 404-778-3350.

Related Resources

Understanding Osteoarthritis

OsteoarthritisWhile “arthritis” is a commonly known disease, it is generally misunderstood. In fact, arthritis is not a single disease, rather a way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions. Osteoarthritis (OA), which is also known as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), is one of the most common forms of arthritis, affecting nearly 27 million Americans according to the Arthritis Foundation.

Unlike other forms of inflammatory arthritis, OA is most common in older adults. It occurs when cartilage, the smooth, rubbery material that cushions each bone becomes thinned, damaged or worn away. The “wearing down” of cartilage leads to pain, swelling and joint stiffness, and as the disease continues to worsen over time, bone rubbing against bone can lead to joint damage and more intense pain.

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but mostly affects the knees, hips, hands and spine joints. While the cause of osteoarthritis is unknown and there is no cure, there are ways to relieve symptoms and improve joint function for those suffering from the disease:

  • Exercise! Just 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week (150 minutes in total) can help significantly reduce joint pain and improve joint mobility in as little as four to six weeks. If you cannot fit in a whole 30 minutes, try breaking your exercise into three, 10-minute increments throughout the day. Any physical activity is better than none!
  • Be SMART when it comes to physical activity:
    • Start low and go slow. Begin with three to five minutes of physical activity twice a day and add activity in small amounts to allow your body to adjust.
    • Modify activity if arthritis symptoms increase, but try to stay active.
    • Activities should be low impact, such as walking, bicycling, water aerobics or dancing.
    • Recognize safe and effective ways to be active. Consider exercise classes designed for people with arthritis. When planning your own activity, make sure to choose safe locations with sidewalks/pathways that are level (e.g., a neighborhood or park).
    • Talk with your healthcare provider to help monitor chronic osteoarthritis symptoms.
  • Watch your weight. If you are overweight, losing one pound can take four pounds of pressure off your knee joints! A weight loss of five percent helps reduce joint pain. Maintaining a healthy weight and physical activity are also beneficial with other chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, which often affect those with OA.
  • Eat right. While there is no specific diet for people with arthritis, studies have identified certain foods that can help control inflammation, strengthen bones and boost the immune system. Incorporating foods often found in the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fish, vegetables, fruit and olive oil, have been found to promote good joint health.

Can osteoarthritis be prevented? Learn more about risk factors for osteoarthritis >>

Find the right physician

If you are experiencing severe pain, swelling or stiffness in your joints, it may be time to see one of the physicians at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center for further evaluation and treatment.

Related Resources

About Dr. Mason

Amadeus Mason, MDAmadeus Mason, MD, is an assistant professor in the Orthopaedics and Family Medicine departments at Emory University.

He is board certified in Sports Medicine with a special interest in track and field, running injuries and exercise testing. He has been trained in diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasound, orthopedic stem cell therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy. Dr. Mason is Team Physician for USA Track & Field, Tucker High School, and Georgia Tech Track and Field.

Dr. Mason is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the America Road Racing Medical Society, and the USA Track and Field Sports Medicine and Science Committee. He has been invited to be a resident physician at the US Olympic Training Center, a Sports Medicine consultant in his homeland of Jamaica and the Chief Medical Officer at multiple USA Track and Field international competitions. He is an annual speaker at the pre-race expo for PTRR, Publix marathon and Atlanta marathon commenting on a wide variety of topics related to athletics and running injuries.

Dr. Mason is an active member of the Atlanta running community. He attended Princeton University and was captain of the track team. His other sports interests include soccer, college basketball and football, and the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). A Decatur resident, he is married with three children.

How to Train and Prepare for Summer Running Races – Join Us for a Live Online Chat!

Running Training Live ChatWhether you are a seasoned marathon runner or recreational jogger, it is important to train properly and know how to prevent injury.

If you are interested in learning more about preventing and treating sports and running injuries, join Emory Sports Medicine physician Amadeus Mason, MD, for an online web chat on Tuesday, June 9 at noon. Dr. Mason will be available to answer your questions such as:

  • Injury prevention
  • Stretching
  • Race-day tips
  • Symptoms of certain athletic injuries
  • Risk factors for athletic/running injuries
  • Treatment for specific sports injuries
  • When to visit your sports medicine physician

To register for the live chat, visit! If you already have questions for Dr. Mason, go ahead and submit in advance so our team can answer during the chat!

Sign Up for the Chat

From surgical sports medicine expertise to innovative therapies and athletic injury rehabilitation, our sports medicine specialists provide the most comprehensive treatment for a range of athletic-related injuries. Visit our website to learn more about the Emory Sports Medicine Center.

Successful Grand Opening for Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine at Dunwoody

Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine at Dunwoody

Photo from grand opening event at Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine’s new Dunwoody location. A big thanks to Dunwoody Mayor, Mike Davis, Blessed Trinity High School, Emory at Dunwoody Family Practice, Jerry’s Famous Catering, St. Pius X Catholic High School, William J. Mulcahy, Synergy Sports Wellness Institute and all the wonderful people that shared the day with us. We are grateful.

On January 28, 2015, Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine successfully hosted a grand opening event to officially open its doors to their new Dunwoody location.

The opening reception was an opportunity for local businesses and members of the Dunwoody community to tour the facility and meet with Emory physicians, including the newest physician, Lee Kneer, MD, assistant professor in the Departments of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Medicine. Dr. Kneer specializes in non-surgical treatments, ultrasound, rehabilitation and sport medicine.

In an effort to meet the increasing demands for orthopaedic care, Emory Orthopaedics continues to expand its services for the convenience of patient access across Metro Atlanta. The Dunwoody clinic offers a full range of treatments for orthopaedic conditions and injuries including sports medicine, hand and upper extremities, foot and ankle, joint replacement, shoulder, knee and hip, spinal care, and concussions. It also offers X-ray, physical therapy and an ambulatory surgery center.

“The needs of our patients always come first,” says Scott Boden, MD, director of the Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center. “We are excited to offer top-notch physicians and convenient locations for high-level, specialized care that address the unique needs of our orthopaedic and spine patients.”

Emory Orthopaedics & Spine has locations in Atlanta, Duluth, Johns Creek, Tucker and now Dunwoody. All Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine physicians bring extensive training and experience.

Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine at Dunwoody is located at 4555 North Shallowford Road, Atlanta, GA 30338.

For more information on all Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine clinic, please call 404-778-3350. Appointments for surgical second opinions or acute sports injuries are available within 48 hours at 404-778-3350.

Knee Arthroscopy and Knee Arthroscopy Recovery

knee surgeryKnee arthroscopy is surgery that uses a tiny camera (arthroscope) to look inside your knee. Small cuts are made to insert the camera and small surgical tools into your knee for the procedure.

Your surgeon can use arthroscopy to feel, repair or remove damaged tissue. To do this, small surgical instruments are inserted through other incisions around your knee.

Preparation for Knee Arthroscopy:

Usually no significant pre operative testing is needed. Depending on your heath, your orthopaedic surgeon may order pre-operative tests. These may include blood counts, an EKG (electrocardiogram), and even a complete physical examination to assess your health and identify any problems that could interfere with your surgery.

Surgery for Knee Arthroscopy:

During the procedure, the orthopedic surgeon inserts the arthroscope (a small camera instrument about the size of a pencil) into your knee joint through a small incision in the knee. A sterile solution will be used to fill the knee joint and rinse away any cloudy fluid. This helps your surgeon see your knee clearly so that he may diagnose the problem and determine what treatment is needed.

Arthroscopy for the knee is most commonly used for:

  • Removal or repair of torn meniscal or articular cartilage
  • Reconstruction of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • Removal of loose fragments of bone or cartilage
  • Removal of inflamed synovial tissue

After your procedure has concluded, a doctor will remove the instruments and close the incisions with a stitch.

Recovery from Knee Arthroscopy

Recovery from knee arthroscopy is much faster than traditional open knee surgery. You may have some slight swelling in the knee after surgery. Keep your leg elevated as much as possible for the first few days following surgery and ice your knee following the instructions given by your doctor. You may or may not be placed on crutches. Your surgeon will make that decision and discuss with you. Your surgeon will most likely prescribe physical therapy for 6-12 weeks, as well.

About Dr. John Xerogeanes

John Xerogeanes MD

John W. Xerogeanes, MD, Chief of Sports Medicine at Emory University, is known as Dr. “X” by his staff and patients. He is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University as well as an Adjunct Professor at Georgia State and Mercer University. Dr. X has been the Head Orthopaedist and Team Physician for Georgia Tech, Emory University, Agnes Scott College and the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA since 2001. He specializes in ACL and ACL revision surgery performing over 200 of these operations each year. He is board certified in orthopaedic surgery and has his sub-specialty certification in orthopaedic sports medicine.

Dr. Xerogeanes has been recognized as one of US News & World Report’s Top Doctors with a special distinction listing him among the top 1% in the nation in his specialty.

Related Resources:

Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee SurgeryThe knee is a hinge joint which provides motion at the point where the thigh meets the lower leg. Your knee can become damaged by osteoarthritis resulting from wear and tear over time, by rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or by injury/trauma to the knee. Rest, medication, and therapy are the first lines of treatment, but knee replacement surgery — also known as knee arthroplasty — can help relieve pain and restore knee function for those whose cartilage is too damaged to respond to conservative measures. Although surgery always comes with risks, knee replacement surgery continues to be one of the most predictably successful of all major operations done for any problem. It is however a major surgery and should only be considered when other nonsurgical options are not adequate.

Knee Replacement Procedure

In general, knee replacement surgery consists of replacing the diseased or damaged joint surfaces of the knee with metal and plastic components shaped to allow continued motion of the knee. Knee replacement would be more accurately called knee resurfacing in that only the surface of the femur and tibia are removed and then capped by metal. The ends of the bone are precisely shaped to exactly match the shape of the artificial components. These artificial components mimic the shape of the normal bone. A highly wear resistant plastic insert is placed as the cushion between the two metal components. Usually a total knee replacement also involves capping the surface of your knee cap (patella) with polyethylene. A good result from the operation is very dependent on the accuracy of contouring of bone and placement of components.

What to Expect From Knee Surgery

Recent improvements in materials and techniques have made total knee replacement a common and highly successful surgery, with around 300,000 being performed every year in the U.S alone. The vast majority of people who undergo knee joint replacement surgery have dramatic improvement in pain and range of motion. Approximately 95% of patients after recovering from knee replacement report enough improvement that they would repeat the decision to have surgery. In addition to routing life activities, such activities as walking, cycling, dancing, golf and tennis are comfortable for the majority of patients.

Knee Surgery Rehabilitation

Post-operative hospitalization averages 1 to 3 nights, depending on the health status of the patient. Most people require crutches or a walker for 1 to 3 weeks and a cane for 1 to 3 weeks after that. The average need to see a physical therapist is for 4 to 6 weeks and the time to a better knee overall than before surgery for most patients is about 4 to 6 weeks. Time to safely driving a car is typically 2 to 4 weeks and average time off work is also approximately 4 weeks.

About Dr. Roberson

James Roberson, MDJames Roberson, MD is professor and chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics at Emory. He specializes in total joint replacement of the hip and knee. Dr. Roberson completed his residency training at Emory University followed by a fellowship at Mayo Clinic. He has been practicing at Emory since 1982.

Related Resources

Total Knee Replacement
Revision of Total Knee Replacement
Unicompartmental Knee Replacement

Types of Knee Replacements

Knee ReplacementThe knee is the largest and most complex joint in the human body. It is also one of the most important joints, playing an essential role in carrying the weight of the body in a given direction. It is formed by the lower part of the femur, the tibial plateau and the knee cap, and enables hinge and rotating movements as the connection between the upper and lower leg.

When the knee joint is damaged, people can experience pain, swelling and decreased range of motion. This can make it difficult to perform daily tasks like standing, climbing stairs or walking. If the knee doesn’t respond to activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications and injections, knee replacement surgery may be a viable option. Your doctor may recommend knee replacement surgery if you have severe knee pain and disability from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or traumatic injury, and will make a determination based on the damage to your knee, bone strength, age, lifestyle and other medical conditions you have.

There are two types of replacement surgeries: total knee replacement and partial knee replacement, with total knee replacement surgeries comprising more than 90 percent of today’s procedures. During both surgeries an orthopedic surgeon will replace the damaged knee with an artificial device (implant). Although replacing the total knee joint is the most common procedure, some people can benefit from just a partial knee replacement.

Partial Knee Replacement
The knee is made up of three areas or compartments: medial and lateral (the sides of your knee) and patella-femoral (the knee cap). When fewer than three of these areas need to be replaced, it is called a unicompartmental or partial knee replacement.

Partial knee replacement isn’t suitable for everyone because you need to have strong, healthy ligaments within your knee. However, if only one side of your knee is affected, then partial replacement may be a possibility. Partial knee replacements can often be carried out through a smaller cut (incision) than a total knee replacement, and are typically less complicated than total knee replacements. This almost always means a quicker recovery and better function while giving the same level of pain relief as a total knee replacement.

Total Knee Replacement
Most total knee replacement surgeries resurface the bones at the top of your shin bone (tibia) and the bottom of your thigh bone (femur) with an implant made of metal and plastic parts. The end of the femur and top of the tibia are resurfaced and capped with a metal implants. There is a plastic or polyethelene spacer between the two metal components so the articulating surface is metal on plastic. A total knee replacement may also involve replacing the surface of your knee cap (patella) with polyethelene, although many surgeons prefer to leave it in its natural state because it will be less likely to fracture. When fit together, the attached artificial parts form the joint, relying on the surrounding muscles and ligaments for support and function.

After Knee Replacement Surgery
The average hospital stay after knee joint replacement is usually two to four days, and the vast majority of people who undergo knee joint replacement surgery have dramatic improvement in pain and range of motion. Once muscle strength is restored with physical therapy, people who have had knee joint replacement surgery can enjoy most activities although running for exercise not recommended. . The duration of physical therapy can vary, but typically outpatient therapy lasts from one to two months.

About Dr. Reimer

Nickolas Reimer, MDDr. Nickolas Reimer is an assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University. He specializes in the treatment of musculoskeletal tumors, total hip and total knee replacements and revision surgeries.