Kickin' the Spurs Off to Turn Knee Motion OnOsteoarthritis of the knee often causes a loss of motion. This is often because bone spurs form along the front of the joint and block movement. This causes pain in the front of the knee and an inability to fully straighten the knee.
If the loss of motion is less than 10 degrees, a simple surgery to remove the bone spurs may be all that's needed. This operation is called arthroscopic debridement. The doctor inserts a slender device, called an arthroscope, into the joint. It has a tiny TV camera on the end that displays a view of the joint on a TV screen.
During the debridement procedure, the doctor scrapes away bone spurs and smooths the joint surface. The goal is to increase motion, decrease pain, and increase function. It may also prevent the need for more extensive surgery later.
Debridement should be done sooner rather than later. Patients who wait more than five years and who have lost more than 10 degrees of knee extension are poor candidates for this operation. Often, the result isn't as good, and more surgery is needed. Those with early symptoms (less than one year) and minimal loss of motion (less than 10 degrees) generally regain full knee extension and keep it.
Jason Fond, MD, et al. Arthroscopic Debridement for the Treatment of Osteoarthritis of the Knee: 2- and 5-Year Results. In Arthroscopy. October 2002. Vol. 18. No. 8. Pp. 829-834.
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