Expert Knee Care & Tailored Treatments

Dr. Hicks with knee patient
Dr. Hicks meets with a patient suffering from knee pain

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.

Common Knee Pain Causes

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. Common causes of knee pain include:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears

  • Meniscus injury

  • Problems affecting the kneecap (patella)

  • Sprained or strained knee

  • Knee tendonitis

  • Torn knee cartilage

  • Knee arthritis

  • Runner's knee

  • Jumper's knee

  • Knee bursitis

We also treat patients experiencing chronic knee pain or disability as a result of:

  • Cancer

  • Deformities

  • Failed joint replacements

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Traumatic injury

Knee Injury Symptoms

Depending on the location and severity of your knee condition, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Knee pain
  • Swelling of the knee
  • Knee stiffness or aching
  • Weakness, instability or decreased flexibility of the knee
  • Redness around the knee and warm to the touch
  • Popping sound from the knee
  • Limited motion, such as not being able to fully extend the knee

Knee Pain Relief to Recover Faster, Walk Sooner

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.  

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.

Nonsurgical Knee Pain Treatment

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 Knee Surgery Treatments

Our knee surgery team performs a wide range of knee replacements, knee repairs and more. We deliver customized treatments based on each individual patient's diagnosis and symptoms so that we can recommend a procedure that will offer the best outcomes and knee surgery recovery time.

Knee surgeries we offer:

Partial knee replacement for patients with isolated disease in one area of the knee. Some patients with early to mid-stage osteoarthritis who require partial knee replacement may be candidates for a procedure that uses robotic-arm assisted technology. This approach helps achieve a more precise knee resurfacing that targets only the arthritic portion of the knee, preserving healthy tissue and bone. Learn more about partial knee resurfacing with robotic-arm assisted technology
Total knee replacement for patients with severe arthritis involving different parts of the knee. In some cases, knee replacements are performed with robotic-arm assisted technology. This approach allows for more precise alignment of the components as well as minimizing soft tissue trauma to the knee. Knee replacement helps patients restore their quality of life. Learn more about total knee replacement with robotic-arm assisted technology.

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.

Minimally invasive surgery (arthroplasty) to reconstruct or replace the joints or bones in a diseased knee.

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