Alternatives to Knee Replacement Surgery

Young physical therapist helping patient with leg exercise

Patients with chronic knee pain may think they need knee replacement surgery to get back to living pain-free, but there are alternatives that don’t require surgery and help people get back to the activities they enjoy. Reflex Knee Specialists provide patients with non-surgical treatments for a variety of knee conditions or injuries that cause knee pain. With locations in Oregon, Washington, and Arizona, the medical providers at Reflex Knee Specialists hope to help patients avoid unnecessary knee replacement surgery with conservative treatments. Here, we share some effective alternatives to knee replacement surgery.

 

Lifestyle Changes

Knee pain caused by conditions like knee arthritis or bursitis can be worse in patients who are overweight or sedentary. This is why medical providers often recommend lifestyle changes like losing weight and adding low-impact exercise to help relieve knee pain. Weight loss reduces strain on knees, while exercise helps strengthen the knee and improve flexibility. Other lifestyle changes include using walking aids like canes or walkers, using knee braces for additional support and stability, or taking joint health supplements. Making these changes can help patients experience pain relief over time, especially in patients with mild cases.

 

Physical Therapy

Another treatment for knee pain that is an alternative to knee replacement is physical therapy. Physical therapy involves a range of therapeutic and manual techniques to help reduce pain and improve muscle strength, flexibility, and range of motion. It is also helpful for correcting subtle dysfunctional movement

patterns that develop as a response to knee pain. Usually a subconscious process, people start moving differently as the body’s attempt to avoid pain. Unfortunately, these compensation patterns lead to strain and injury to other parts of the ‘kinetic chain’. Physical therapy is essential for individuals who want to remain active and for overall joint and musculoskeletal health. Physical Therapy is most effective for knee pain caused by:

At Reflex Knee Specialists, our physical therapists provide one-on-one sessions with customized treatment plans to help each patient improve joint function, decrease pain, and increase activity levels.

 

Medication

Minor cases of knee pain are often managed with over-the-counter medications, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). These medications are effective in reducing pain, stiffness, and swelling linked to knee arthritis. However, they can have side effects, mainly to the GI tract or kidneys, so patients should always talk to their doctor about the frequency and dosages of these medicines.

Opiate pain relievers are generally not recommended for knee pain, as they are addictive and have not been proven to treat knee pain long-term any better than NSAIDs. In addition to recommending medications, Reflex Knee Specialists can also recommend supplements for knee pain, including fish oil, ginger, turmeric, calcium, vitamin D3, and more.

 

Injection Therapy

Knee pain that hasn’t been successfully treated with medication, lifestyle changes, or physical therapy, may be treated with injection therapy. This pain relief is often temporary but can be greatly beneficial for patients. Some types of injection therapies include:

Joint Fluid Therapy

Joint fluid therapy is an injection therapy often used for patients with knee osteoarthritis. It involves injecting hyaluronic acid, a substance that is naturally occurring in human joints, directly into the knee joint. This treatment helps decrease inflammation for up to 6 months by shutting down the cellular pathways that are hyperactive in joints with osteoarthritis (OA).  These pathways result in the overproduction of pro-inflammatory proteins pathways that are damaging to cartilage. It also helps reduce pain, protect the cartilage, and lubricate the joint. Although Joint Fluid Therapy isn’t as effective in patients with advanced or end-stage OA, we have seen several patients with ‘bone on bone’ damage respond well to these treatments. We recommend scheduling an evaluation at Reflex Knee Specialists to see if you are a candidate for these treatments before scheduling surgery.

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment is another treatment for knee pain using a concentrated sample of platelets obtained from the patient’s blood. This treatment also contains plasma, where the body’s potent growth factors are stored. The platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is then injected into the knee under direct ultrasound guidance to assure it is accurately administered into the proper location. PRP reduces inflammation inside the joint, reduces pain, and triggers the lining of the joint to produce healthier joint (synovial) fluid. PRP can also stimulate healing in patients with a torn meniscus, tendinitis, ligament injuries, and more.

Ozone Joint Therapy

Ozone joint therapy is an emerging injection therapy for treating knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. It uses an injection of ozone gas mixed with oxygen. Several randomized, controlled trials have demonstrated that ozone therapy in patients with knee OA not only reduces inflammation and pain, it also deactivates harmful proteins that break down cartilage tissue, which can delay joint damage. Studies have shown an increased benefit when ozone therapy is used in conjunction with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and hyaluronic acid (HA) treatments.

Reflex Knee Specialists offers these non-surgical therapies to people who want to lead active lives without undergoing invasive surgery. Although surgery may be necessary in severe cases of knee OA, knee replacement should be a last resort after conservative, non-invasive treatments have been tried.

Recent research has shown that knee replacement surgery doesn’t always result in the pain relief patients are seeking. In fact, 25-30% of patients who had a Total Knee Replacement (TKR) report dissatisfaction since they are still in pain or have less range of motion than before the surgery. Some providers and hospitals may have financial to recommend surgery.  Since Reflex Knee Specialists has a team of non-surgical providers, we will not suggest going under the knife unnecessarily.

 

Request a Consultation Today for Non-Surgical Pain Treatment

Patients often think knee replacement surgery is necessary, but Reflex Knee Specialists want our patients to know that they don’t always need surgical treatment to get back to living their lives pain-free. Our skilled medical team takes a non-surgical approach to treating knee pain and its causes at our offices in Portland, OR, Bellevue, WA, and Tempe, AZ.

Book an appointment with our knee specialists today to learn more about our knee replacement alternatives. Call 503-719-6783 or contact us at Reflex Knee Specialists.

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