These days total knee replacement surgery is very common. Even though it has become pretty routine, it does not mean it should be your course of action for painful knee conditions. In fact, it should only be considered after all other types of therapy or treatment have been tried, especially if you are in your early 50s or younger. Why? Because knee replacements only last about fifteen years. After that, you will probably have to have another replacement done and odds are not in your favor that the second one will be successful. That is because when the first replacement was done, holes were drilled into your bones, so the second time around leaves less spots to put internal supporting brackets for the replacement joint.
Getting a knee replacement is still considered a major surgery, so before you commit to getting a new knee, it is important to look at all other options available to you. Almost ¾ of those with osteoarthritis in their knees should not have knee replacement surgery. The goal of replacing your knee is to alleviate pain and increase range of motion. If you can find another way of doing that then you should avoid surgery.
Try These Alternatives to Surgery
- Over-the-counter meds such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Aleve, or other anti-inflammatory drugs can control pain and swelling caused by osteoarthritis.
- Natural remedies such as essential oils and homeopathic treatments should be tried because they are non-addictive and have a rare occurrence of any side effects.
- Lose weight — if you are overweight, the pressure impacting your knees can cause pain and swelling. Even when you walk, the force put on your knees is equal to about one and a half times your body weight. If you walk uphill, that pressure is even higher. Stairs put an added two to three times your body weight on your knees. Squatting to pick up something or to tie your shoes adds four to five times the amount of your body weight to your knees.
- Wearing a knee brace or even shoes that are fitted correctly can help extend the life of your knee.
- Injections of corticosteroids can temporarily relieve pain and swelling.
- Newer techniques include injections of hyaluronic acid in the knee joint. This process temporarily replaces fluid on your joint
- Platelet-rich Plasma may be an option, using your own plasma injected in your knee to aid in rebuilding lost or damaged cartilage
- Acupuncture has been known to help as well
Other alternatives to total knee replacement surgery include:
- Arthroscopic surgery removes torn cartilage from the knee.
- Osteotomy — this cuts bone off the femur or tibia and realigns the knee.
- Unicompartmental knee arthroplasty treats knees that are only damaged on one side by arthritis. The damaged part of one side of the knee is removed and then reshaped and replaced by polyethylene and metal.
- Minimally invasive knee replacement may be an option for a small amount of people and for doctors skilled in this type of surgery.
Most types of knee damage are very similar. Talk with your orthopedic doctor about all your options to be sure you have explored all available options before settling on total knee replacement surgery. You can also go see a physical therapist, like a physical therapist from AmeriWell Clinics, before resorting to surgery.