Expert Knee Care & Tailored Treatments
The knee is the largest joint in the entire body. It bears the majority of your weight, which makes the bone susceptible to injury. Each year millions suffer severe knee pain in their bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. The orthopaedic specialists at the University of Chicago Medicine's Musculoskeletal Center offer comprehensive non-operative, arthroscopic and joint replacement care for patients with knee injuries and knee pain.
Find relief for your joint pain at UChicago Medicine. Your joints are involved in almost every activity you do. When you suffer from hip or knee pain, everyday activities can feel unbearable. Knee and hip pain can be caused by many conditions. At UChicago Medicine, we can help relieve your pain.
You may find relief using nonsurgical treatment options. If these do not provide relief, your doctor might recommend a partial or total joint replacement. In joint-replacement surgery, also called arthroplasty, your surgeon replaces damaged bone and cartilage with an implant that will allow you to move your joint without pain.
At UChicago Medicine, we perform a high volume of joint-replacement surgeries every year. Higher surgery volumes are associated with better outcomes and lower rates of complications. Our orthopedic surgeons are at the forefront of joint-replacement surgery, including using robotic-arm-assisted technology. This technology helps to customize surgery to your unique needs.
Let's take a closer look at a total knee replacement. First, a CT scan of the knee generates a virtual 3D model of your unique joint. Your surgeon uploads this model into software to create your surgical plan. Your surgeon has the flexibility to modify this plan at any time based on your needs.
Your surgeon guides the robotic arm to remove the damaged bone and cartilage from the knee, keeping your healthy bone and cartilage in place. With the diseased bone gone, your surgeon inserts a knee implant into the joint space.
Robotic-assisted technology is just one example of how UChicago Medicine uses less-invasive surgery to help you recover faster. Our orthopedic program includes less-invasive surgery, specialized anesthetic techniques, and rapid-recovery physical therapy. Many of our patients are up and walking with more mobility and less pain within a day of surgery.
Ready to relieve your joint pain? UChicago Medicine is here to help.
Understanding Knee Injuries
Every year, people experience sports injuries, arthritis, falls, vehicle collisions and more. UChicago Medicine orthopaedic and sports medicine specialists will partner with you to create a care plan to eliminate your knee pain and restore your mobility.
We encourage our patients to try self-care remedies — rest, ice, compression, elevation and over-the- counter anti-inflammatory medications — before seeking medical treatment for minor knee pain after an injury. If your pain persists after these measures, or if the injury is severe, our knee specialists can evaluate the problem and offer the best treatment options for your condition. Common causes of knee pain include:
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears
Problems affecting the kneecap (patella)
Tendonitis and bursitis
Recover Faster, Walk Sooner
Many of our patients are up and walking within a day of surgery. We offer a multifaceted program for knee arthroplasty that includes minimally invasive surgery, specialized anesthetic techniques, multi-modal pain management and rapid-recovery physical therapy.
Non-surgical Treatment for Knee Pain
Many knee injuries can be treated through:
- Immobilization. Your doctor may recommend a brace to stabilize your knee. If you have a fractured bone, a cast or brace may hold the bones in place while they heal. You may also be given crutches to keep you from putting weight on your leg.
- Physical therapy. Specific exercises help restore function to the knee and strengthen the leg muscles.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs). Drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen reduce pain and swelling.
Comprehensive Surgical Services for Knee Pain
Each knee joint has subtle differences in shape and contour, but traditional surgical instruments used to place knee implants are typically one-size-fits-all. This means that surgeons will have to spend time adapting the patient's knee to fit the new implant.
However, Visionaire technology uses MRI and x-ray images of a patient's knee to design and build surgical instruments that are customized for each patient’s unique knee anatomy. Our surgeons come to the operating room with surgical instruments engineered exclusively for the patient's knee and an implant that matches the knee's dimensions. With computer-guided precision, the knee implant is then carefully put in place. With the Custom Fit Visionaire Knee Replacement system, patients have less pain, a quicker recovery and a longer-lasting implant. And because Visionaire delivers pre-sized, pre-aligned instruments, surgery time is shortened, reducing a patient's time under anesthesia.
Knee arthroscopy is surgery that uses a tiny camera to look inside your knee. Small cuts are made to insert the camera and small surgical tools into your knee for the procedure.
- Arthroscopy may be recommended for the following knee problems:
- Torn meniscus. (Meniscus is cartilage that cushions the space between the bones in the knee.) Surgery is done to repair or remove it
- Torn or damaged anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
- Torn or damaged collateral ligament
- Swollen or damaged lining of the knee joint
- Kneecap (patella) that is out of position or misaligned
- Small pieces of broken cartilage in the knee joint
- Removal of Baker's cyst, a fluid-filled swelling behind the knee
- Cartilage repair
Restoring articular cartilage can relieve pain and allow better function, including delaying or preventing the onset of arthritis. Our experts now offer several revolutionary new procedures to repair or restore damaged cartilage without the need for joint replacement surgery, because new cartilage cells are grown and then implanted in the cartilage defect.
First, healthy cartilage tissue is removed from a non-weight bearing area of the bone. Healthy cartilage cells are sent to a laboratory where they are cultured for 3-5 weeks until the new cells are implanted to restore cartilage. Using the patient’s own cells means that there is no danger of rejecting the tissue.
Knee Treatments & Replacements
We provide innovative and effective solutions for individuals experiencing chronic knee pain or disability as a result of:
Failed joint replacements
Telemedicine at UChicago Medicine
Save time by skipping the trip to the doctor's office and video conference with your provider instead. Video visits are a secure, quick, and convenient way to connect with your doctor and other members of your care team.
Whether you are facing a complex health issue or difficult treatment decision, getting a second opinion can help you make an informed decision about your care. Get an online second opinion from one of our experts without having to leave home.
Meet Our Knee Care Team
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Arthroscopic knee surgery helps WNBA star
Despite Allie Quigley's success on the court, she found that her knee pain was affecting the mental edge she needed to compete at her full potential. To address the discomfort, she followed several non-surgical approaches — icing, physical therapy and cortisone injections. “Mentally, having a knee issue makes you not as confident on the court,” Quigley said. “The discomfort is always on your mind.”Read about Allie's return to basketball
A Robotic Fix for Knee Pain
Karen Gamperl and her husband both needed new knees. Orthopaedic surgeon Hue Luu, MD, recommended robotic-arm assisted total knee replacement. This innovative approach offers many benefits, including natural motion of the joint after recovery. "I can't tell it's not my real knee," Karen says. "It was a fantastic procedure for me." Seeing his wife's success, Michael has the same surgery two months later. And now that they can climb the stairs more easily, they've decided to stay in their split-level home.Read more of Karen's story
Nurse gets back on her feet after knee replacement
Katherine Krol’s right knee started hurting nine years ago. She powered through the pain and sought some initial treatment, but the pain returned and was soon intolerable. It was after a friend recommended Phil Nigro, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon, that she was ready to have knee replacement surgery to rid her of constant pain.Read more about Katherine's story