knee pain

Knee Pain Doesn’t Mean Surgery: What Are the Alternatives?

Knee replacement surgery can be a tough decision to make, but it isn’t always necessary right away. Prior to taking the leap towards scheduling a surgical procedure, many orthopedic surgeons will suggest trying all reasonable alternatives to knee surgery. Knee replacement surgery is a very commonly performed procedure that involves the resurfacing of the bones of the knee with metal and plastic pieces or components. 

While there is a wealth of information and advertisements recommending which knee replacement to have, and where to have it done, there is very little published knowledge about knee replacement surgery alternatives, or alternatives to treating knee pain in general.

The most common condition leading to a knee replacement is osteoarthritis. This is typically a degenerative condition where the cartilage cushion on the ends of your bones starts wearing away.  While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are many alternatives to surgery available to treat the pain associated with it, and thus postpone the need for a knee replacement. Osteoarthritis affects nearly everyone over the age of 60, yet it can also affect those of us in our 30s or 40s if there is a genetic predisposition or a previous injury.

If your pain doesn’t improve with physical therapy, a knee compression sleeve, certain supplements, the failure of non-surgical treatments can ultimately lead to knee replacement proving to be your best available option. However, knee surgery should never be your first option. You can sometimes help your knee pain with alternative treatments instead. You and your doctor will discuss less invasive ways to ease knee pain, which may include:

1. Weight Loss and Exercise: Exercise can help you achieve your weight loss goal while strengthening your muscles and reducing pain.

2. Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can design a regimen that helps you reduce pain and strengthen the key muscles that affect your knees. They can work with you to make sure you’re doing exercises correctly.

3. Knee Injections (Hyaluronic Acid): Knee injections of hyaluronic acid lubricate the knee and act as shock absorbers. They help the cartilage and bone tissues slide more smoothly in the joint. The technique helps to reduce pain and improve knee mobility.

4. Medication or Cortisone Shots: Medication, including over-the-counter pain relievers and topical creams with the numbing agent’s lidocaine or Marcaine, may help control your knee pain. Your doctor might also recommend an injection of either steroids or cortisone.

5. Acupuncture: This ancient Chinese method uses sharp, thin needles to impact nerves and change the flow of energy within the body. Acupuncture has become more popular recently as an alternative treatment for pain.

6. Prolotherapy: Prolotherapy is an approach that uses a dextrose solution injected into the ligament or tendon to increase the blood flow and supply of nutrients. The dextrose solution is a sugar mixture. This treatment aims to stimulate the tissue so it will repair itself.

7. Stem Cell Therapy: This experimental treatment uses bone marrow stem cells from the hip to help regenerate cartilage tissue in the knee. A small but growing number of doctors are turning to cutting-edge stem cell therapy as an alternative to knee replacement surgery.

To find out more alternatives to help with your knee pain, and to avoid the possibility of knee surgery call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050, or request an appointment online.