If you’re suffering from chronic knee pain because of overuse, an injury, or a degenerative disease such as osteoarthritis, what are your options for relief? Although many patients, particularly those that are middle aged, fear that the immediate and finite answer is knee replacement surgery – this shouldn’t be the primary choice.
During knee replacement surgery, surgeons replace the damaged or diseased knee joint with a mechanical implant made of metal and plastic composites that act as a joint. Since this is an invasive procedure and requires a lengthy recovery period, both patients and doctors agree that this should be only offered after other less obtrusive treatments have been explored.
This is especially true for younger or active patients, which include people between the ages of 45 and 60 who show signs of chronic knee pain, but are looking for relief without surgery.
Here are several alternatives that can relieve chronic knee pain:
One of the quickest, most effective ways to reduce knee pain is to lose weight. Excess weight puts unnecessary stress and pressure on the joints, particularly those of the lower body such as the hips, knees, and ankles. Even shedding a few kilograms can lead to a noticeable reduction in pain.
Working with a physical therapist can help to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee, as well teach you the proper positioning and form when doing exercises.
There are several different injections that temporarily lessen or eliminate chronic knee pain, and increase mobility as well:
A steroid or cortisone shot reduces pain, fluid buildup, and inflammation of the knee joint, giving your body a chance to heal. The effects are nearly immediate and can last anywhere from two to three months. However, these can be harmful to your joints if used too frequently.
Hyaluronic acid injections provide lubrication between the joints, which is necessary for the bone and cartilage of the knee to glide smoothly across each another without grinding together. Hyaluronic acid also acts as a shock absorber. However, this is typically offered to people after they have gone through steroid injections and physical therapy without success, or if they are allergic to certain pain killers.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is another option for young patients with articular cartilage lesions. The injected of concentrated platelets accelerate the body’s own healing process in the knee joint.
Natural supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin provide temporary joint pain relief by creating a cushion between the diseased or degenerative bone and the surrounding tissue.
Another popular technique is acupuncture. This traditional Chinese medicinal technique uses long thin needles to alleviate pain by impacting nerves.
This type of surgery, which is much less invasive than total knee replacement surgery, is used to repair tendons and cartilage in the knee, as well as flush out bone fragments or cartilage pieces that may be causing pain. This is done by using a very thin tube with a special video camera on its end to view the condition of your knee.
Every patient is different. Speak with your doctor to see which treatment is right for you. Your doctor will take into account any complications of which you are at risk, along with the degree of pain and impaired function.
However, if a patient has gone through consecutive failed treatments, it is then appropriate to proceed with knee replacement surgery.
Knee replacement surgery is now possible in younger patients because of the improved quality of knee prosthetics, along with the improved surgical technology and surgical techniques – which altogether increase the longevity of the prosthesis.
By Joint Replacement Center, Bumrungrad Hospital
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