There are a few areas of your body where pain really interferes with your daily life. One is your knees, whether the pain is brought on by arthritis or injury. Knee replacement surgery is reliable and increasingly common, but though contemporary procedures are safer than ever, all surgery carries risk, so always give serious thought about whether to proceed. Knee replacement is a last-resort treatment.
Before you go under the knife, there are three nonsurgical strategies that may reduce the problems your knees give you, assuming nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications failed to reduce your pain. Depending on the cause and condition of your knee pain, any of these could produce dramatic results, perhaps enough to avoid the stress and long recovery of replacement surgery.
Contact one of my offices, either by phone or online, to arrange a consultation, and together we will develop a treatment plan that may keep you off the operating table.
Lifestyle modification for knee pain
Finding the underlying causes of your knee issues is, of course, the first step, and sometimes a look at your lifestyle can go beyond giving clues about the root of your pain. It might also suggest nonsurgical solutions. For many people, changes to diet and activity that add up to modest weight loss can make a significant difference in the condition of their knees.
Ten pounds of body weight can increase the load on your knees by as much as 60 pounds of force, so even a small change is worth the effort. Since knee pain tends to suggest rest to ease pain, increasing activity may seem counterintuitive. However, particularly with osteoarthritis, modest increases in activity generally reduce the amount of pain you experience.
Adding physical therapy builds up the support muscles for your knees, spreading out the forces on the joint itself. Other PT treatments can improve blood flow, which keeps joint inflammation down while easing the pain burden. Electrical stimulation and ultrasound are two common techniques.
Injectable solutions for knee pain
Corticosteroid injections have long been used to treat joint pain, though results aren’t consistent from patient to patient. Some people may find cortisone very effective, while others receive little benefit at all. Similarly, the length of pain relief varies by patient. Continued use of corticosteroids may also result in further joint deterioration, so at best this is a limited solution.
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in your body, and it’s a component in the friction-reducing fluids within your knee. These natural lubricants reduce in volume as you age, so supplemental injections can bolster existing synovial fluid, resulting in increased cushioning that can ease pain and restore mobility.
Regenerative medicine and knee pain
Perhaps the most promising nonsurgical solution for knee pain makes use of your own body’s resources. Despite the pain you’re feeling, your body is already at work trying to repair the damage that’s causing the pain. When knee pain becomes chronic, these repair systems simply can’t keep up with the rate of deterioration.
Stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) combine to boost the healing ability of your body. These are the building blocks that you’re already using to repair your knee. However, your blood delivers only a limited amount of these substances. Harvesting your own stem cells and creating PRP from your own blood, then injecting them into your knee, is like adding extra workers and materials to a construction site. While results can vary, successful treatment can eliminate the need for surgery.
So, you have options before considering knee replacement surgery. Contact my office, and let’s get started today.