Although you have probably heard of heel spurs, you may be surprised to discover that knee spurs are just as common. In fact, bone spurs can occur anywhere in the body where thin bits of cartilage separate bones and assist in the articulation of joints. If your orthopedist tells you that you have knee bone spurs, it means that all of the cartilage is gone and your body is trying to compensate by creating additional bone to stabilize the joints. You have bone-on-bone rubbing, and undoubtedly hear and feel a lot of bone-on-bone grinding. Knee bone spurs can affect your knee replacement surgery in the following ways.
Total Knee Replacement
A partial knee replacement is no longer an option at this point because there is no cartilage left to salvage. Additionally, the bones that make up your knee have extra bits of bone that will need to be removed to reduce inflammation and the contraction of osteoarthritis. Once your knees are this far gone, a total knee replacement is the only option.
Opening the Knees up to Remove the Spurs
Before the surgeon can even replace your knees, he or she has to remove the spurs. This may include grinding them down to nubs, or cutting them off with a bone saw if they are especially long and jagged. The idea is to return the bones of your knees to their former and more natural shape prior to inserting the artificial knee joints. The spurs would get in the way of the articulation of the artificial joints, and that is why the spurs have to be removed or ground down.
Detaching and Reattaching Tendons and Ligaments
Some tendons and ligaments will have to be cut in order to get your artificial knees in place anyway, but when bone spurs are digging into tendons and ligaments, they have to be cut away from the spurs and then sewn back together later. This means that you will have a lot more recovery time and rehabilitation therapy ahead of you than someone who did not have bone spurs. You will probably have a lot more pain too, depending on your individual pain threshold.
Additional Knee Surgeries
If your body has already programmed itself to produce knee spurs, there is a higher chance that new spurs will grow in place after your knee replacement surgery. Although it will be a much slower process because the artificial knees will move more smoothly than natural bone-on-bone knees, it is still a possibility. Your orthopedist will monitor this issue and recommend any additional or necessary surgeries to address knee bone spurs in the future.
Talk with an orthopedist, like those at Joseph P. Spott, DO, if you have more questions about knee spurs or your upcoming knee replacement surgery.