Innovative, Gender-Smart Knee Replacement Options for Women

FAN1006990kneereplacementcrA woman's knee is shaped differently than a man's. Yet, until recently, knee replacement implants were used universally for both sexes.

"Since a woman's anatomy is unique, at University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro we offer women having knee replacement the option of receiving an innovative gender-smart implant that has been specially designed to fit a woman's body. Our approach gives women greater opportunity to enjoy a more comfortable, pain-free life after knee replacement," says board certified orthopedic surgeon Harvey E. Smires, MD.

New advances in prosthetic devices take into account the fact that women's knees are shaped differently and also smaller than men's, explains Dr. Smires. "In general, knee implants are sized by measuring the lower end of the femur (thighbone) from front to back (anterior-posterior) and from side to side (medio-lateral)," says Dr. Smires. "For the most part, women's knees are shaped like a trapezoid (four-sided object with only two sides parallel). They are slightly larger from front to back and narrower from side to side than men's knees, which are more rectangular in shape."

Gender-smart knee prosthetics, which are now being used by UMCPP's orthopedic surgeons, are designed to fit the specific form of a woman's knee by offering a thinner shape, a natural tracking angle and custom contouring to prevent the implant from overhanging the bone.

Today, more than 365,000 Americans receive knee replacements each year. That number is expected to increase as people enjoy longer, active lifestyles. Women suffer from arthritis at three times the rate of men, and therefore, are twice as likely to need a total joint replacement.

Is Knee Replacement Right For Me?                                                                                                (back to top)

The decision to undergo knee replacement is a personal choice that should be made by you and your healthcare provider. Knee replacement is usually a last resort after all other treatment options have been exhausted for reducing serious, debilitating knee pain caused by degenerative joint disease. Common causes of degenerative joint disease include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Trauma (fracture, ligament tear or tissue damage)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Non-surgical options for treating degenerative joint disease may include the use of knee sleeves to reduce bone-on-bone pressure, an increase in non-impact aerobic activity and/or weight loss. Physical therapy, including development of an exercise plan specifically designed for people with joint problems, may also be beneficial in improving mobility and reducing pain. Specialized aquatic and land-based programs are offered through the University Medical Center at Princeton Outpatient Rehabilitation Network.

Your healthcare provider also may suggest the use of nutriceuticals, such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, to slow down cartilage deterioration. Cortisonetype steroid injections, which last about six weeks, can give temporary relief of the inflammation caused by arthritis. Lubricant injections also may be given and may result in six to eight months of relief. However, these injections are not effective in all patients. Medications also may be prescribed to relieve pain.

Protecting Yourself Against Degenerative Joint Disease                                                                      (back to top)

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Choose non-impact aerobic activities.
  • Consult a physical therapist for a personal strengthening and stretching program.
  • Maintain good posture to protect your joints.
  • Change positions frequently to decrease stiffness in muscles and joints.
  • Listen to your body and seek medical advice whenever you experience pain.

Research shows that early diagnosis and treatment can result in better outcomes, so do not delay a consultation with an orthopedic specialist. "Don't wait until you've lost too much range of motion or strength," Dr. Smires warns. "There is no reason to live in constant pain and with a life-altering disability, when we can help people determine the best options for treatment."

Knee joint replacement procedures are among the most successful operations performed today. Ninety percent of those who undergo the procedure report fast pain relief, improved mobility and better quality of life.

Click here to find an orthopedic surgeon.

(back to top)