Millions of people around the world suffer from knee arthritis, which can cause pain, stiffness and a decrease in activity level and quality of life. Eventually, this leads to knee replacement surgery, which remains the most effective treatment for permanent pain relief. However, knee replacement should be reserved as a last resort.
What Are the Other Options Besides Knee Replacement?
There are several minimally invasive options you and your surgeon can try before committing to knee replacement surgery
- Physical Therapy – Consulting with a physical therapist can increase the strength of the muscles supporting the knee and reduce pain. Therapists can use ice and heat, electrical nerve stimulation and other therapies to increase blood flow to the knee. They can teach you how to safely stretch and strengthen vulnerable joints and set a structured program to gradually set up a routine for exercise.
- Weight Loss and Exercise – Obesity is one of the main factors for the progression of osteoarthritis. The more stress placed on the already damaged joints the greater the inflammation. By losing just five to ten percent of your body weight, you will notice the relief and difference in all your symptoms.
- Medications – There are several medications for knee arthritis that have been proven to help in reducing the pain and swelling in the joint over-the-counter pain relievers and topical creams with the numbing agent lidocaine or bupivacaine, may help control your knee pain. Your doctor might also recommend a steroid injection to reduce the inflammation in your knee.
- Injections – This process usually starts with a corticosteroid injection, which can drastically reduce the inflammation, pain and swelling associated with knee arthritis. They are effective and can be long lasting. Hyaluronic acid is produced naturally in our body and can be injected into a joint as a shock absorber and a lubricant. The procedure can reduce pain and improve knee mobility. These steroids mimic naturally occurring hormones in your body.
- Supportive Devices –Using supportive devices for walking helps in removing strain and pressure from the damaged joints. These walking devices are not just limited to canes, crutches and walkers. The device options are many like an unloader brace for knee arthritis which relieves pressure on the most damaged side of a joint, rolling walkers (rollators) that allow you to move freely unlike a standard walker.
Making the Final Decision
- When it comes to choosing a treatment for knee arthritis, your surgeon should consider all possible alternatives to knee replacement surgery.
- Deciding on the best possible treatment option is a process both you and your surgeon should determine together.
- Discuss the full operation procedure with your doctor if you’ve exhausted all your other options.
- Delaying a necessary surgery can also cause additional long-term problems.