The surgical procedure carried out to provide relief from pain and disability by replacing the weight-bearing surfaces of the knee joint is called knee replacement surgery. Knee replacement surgery is mostly carried out to treat osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.
However, knee replacement surgery is not the primary or key solution to treat pain related to the knee joint. There are many alternatives to knee repair without surgery.
1. Weight Loss and Exercise
The best way to avoid knee replacement surgery and reduce knee pain is to lose weight. This can be achieved by eating a healthy diet and doing physical exercise under the guidance of a trainer. The patient should consult a nutritionist to know how to lose weight. For people who are obese, their extra weight puts pressure on the knees and increases stress on the joint. Activities like yoga, cycling, walking, and other physical exercise can be done to reduce weight.
2. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy from an experienced physical therapist shows a positive effect on knee pain. Methods like heat and ice, electrical nerve stimulation should be done under the observation of a physical therapist. Moreover, a physical therapist monitors the exercise procedure and helps to increase the strength of the muscles. This in return reduces the pain
3. Arthroscopic surgery
Arthroscopic surgery is a small procedure that is less invasive. In order to remove bone fragments or damaged cartilage, as well as to repair ligaments, a surgeon may recommend arthroscopic surgery.
An arthroscope helps a surgeon to see the inside of the joint by doing a small incision. The surgeon uses the arthroscope to work on the inside of the knee after making two to four incisions. Recovery is very quick and people can get discharged on the same day.
4. Knee Osteotomy
Osteotomy (surgical realignment by cutting one or more bones) is favorable in those who have knee deformity in only one side of their knee. This procedure drops down the weight-bearing load, away from the damaged area of the knee. Knee osteotomy is suitable for younger people with limited knee damage.
5. Medication and Steroids
Knee joint pain due to arthritis can be treated by using over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). These medications can reduce the pain, swelling and stiffness associated with knee arthritis. A corticosteroid injection may also help reduce pain.
Glucosamine sulfate and hyaluronic acid are the two most common supplements used for reducing knee arthritis symptoms. A dietary supplement called glucosamine/chondroitin can enhance the mobility of the joint and minimize pain from knee arthritis. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are naturally occurring molecules in the body.
7. Intra Articular Injection of Hyaluronic Acid
The intraarticular injection of hyaluronic acid comes under the category of Viscosupplementation. These injections are administered directly into the joints and increase lubrication. This increases mobility and reduces pain. The primary aim of the intraarticular injections is to increase synovial fluid viscoelasticity which reduces friction between the bones.
8. Radiofrequency Ablation
If you do not find relief with any of the above-mentioned alternatives, your physician might suggest the option of Radiofrequency Ablation. Radiofrequency Ablation provides relief from pain in the knees by removing out the sensory nerves that are responsible for transferring pain signals from the knee to the brain. It is, in general, a temporary solution as you may feel pain once the sensory nerves grow back.
Braces are an excellent option for providing external stability to the knee joint. They are customized to impart enhanced mobility, pain reduction and joint stability. They are made of metal, leather, and/or plastic and strengthens knee muscles. Bracing allows the realignment of joints and reduces the contact of bones. This helps in improving mobility.
Every patient should consult their physician before carrying out any of the above alternative methods to delay or avoid knee replacement surgery.
HOD And Consultant - Joint Replacement And Orthopaedics
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