Best Knee replacement alternatives
The knee is a hinge joint that connects the femur to the tibia and the fibula bones. Over time the meeting place of these bones can wear out, causing pain and swelling. One option is total knee replacement to restore full function of the knee with arthritis. Commonly knee replacements are made because other treatments have not worked. They can be done in people of all ages, except for children. However, there are knee replacement alternatives. Keep reading to know more about the other available options.
Non-surgical knee replacement alternatives
While there are certain cases in which the best option is a total knee replacement, there are other times when alternatives are better options. The risks and benefits of any treatment should be discussed with your doctor. Alternatives to a total knee replacement may include:
- Weight Loss
The knee receives around four pounds of pressure per pound of body weight so a small amount of weight loss makes a big difference and can lead to a reduction in pain levels.
- Exercise or physical therapy
Strengthening the muscles around the knee can help take some of the pressure off the knee joint. Maintaining a range of motion will keep the joint from becoming rigid.
This can include anything from over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or naproxen to prescription pain relievers. Always talk about all the medications you plan to take with your doctor before starting the medication to discuss the risks or side effects.
4. Supports and templates
Either of these can help keep the knee joint aligned and balance the weight of the joint.
Drugs such as cortisone can be injected directly into the knee area to help relieve pain. A special type of lubricant called gel hyaluronic acid is injected into the area between the bones of the knee joints. The treatment has been very successful with patients who were not ideal candidates for surgery.
Surgical alternatives to knee replacement
This is a minimally invasive surgery in which the doctor examines the joint from the inside with an arthroscope. The joint can be repaired through small incisions made in the skin. This is only a useful procedure for certain knee problems.
- The osteotomy
This procedure is done by cutting the leg bone and realigning it and letting it heal. This is done to shift the weight away from a damaged part of the knee to a less damaged one. This is not recommended for patients over 60 years of age or patients with inflammatory arthritis.
- Partial knee replacement
A uni-compartmental knee replacement is a procedure where only part of the joint is replaced. It is discussed if there is a benefit only to the replacement of part of the joint. Certain studies have shown that there are benefits, but you should consult your doctor about the possible benefits and risks.
- The cartilage transplant
Another option is to transplant healthy cartilage to parts of the knee where cartilage is not damaged. This works best for patients with localized damage to the knee joint. This means that patients with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis will not benefit from this procedure.
- Knee fusion
Also called arthrodesis, this procedure is performed when the risk of a total knee replacement failure is too high. The procedure cuts the ends of the femur and the flat tibia and secures them together with pins. After the bones have healed, the fusion of the straight leg will grow together. The joint is no longer able to bend and the patient will walk with a limp, but will no longer experience pain.
- Stem Cell Therapy
This is fast becoming one of the best knee replacement alternatives. It uses the cells that are naturally found in the bone marrow and the fat of the stem. These are different from embryonic stem cells. These cells have the ability to repair damaged tissue as the type of damage that causes pain in the knee. The problem for people with a degenerative disease, such as osteoarthritis, is that they have cells that are not released as often as needed to repair damaged stem tissue. Therapy can solve this problem and the risks are relatively low.
- Platelet rich plasma (PRP)
PRP has been used for some time in the sports industry to help athletes with conditions such as ACL, MCL, LCL and knee tears. For this treatment your own blood is used with a high level of growth hormones, enzymes and other cells that help in the healing process. A small amount of blood is taken and all the important nutrients removed. The nutrients are injected back into the body which in turn work to repair the damage. These are not like cortisone injections that work immediately, they take time to work.
- Medical ozone treatments
Unlike some of the treatments mentioned above, treatments with medical ozone repair the damaged areas permanently in the knee. It is relatively safe and causes minimal pain or discomfort. Use the elements of the ozone layer to help repair the knee. Proper circulation of the knee is required to properly heal, ozone treatments help reduce inflammation in the knee and promote circulation and healing more quickly. This treatment is not ideal for all knee problems so it is important to talk with your doctor about your options.
When do you need knee replacement?
There are times when knee replacement alternatives are not the best option. You may need knee replacement surgery if:
- Your pain is persistent and continues through time
- Your knee hurts during or after exercise
- Your mobility is limited
- Medication for other treatment options such as a cane does not provide enough relief
- Your knee gets stiff after sitting for long periods of time
- Your knee hurts during wet weather
- The pain is maintained at night
- Your range of motion is limited
- You have stiffness or swelling in the knee
- Walking or climbing stairs is difficult
- To get in and out of a chair or bathtub is difficult
- Wake up in the morning with stiffness that lasts less than 30 minutes (at any time more than 45 years and you may have rheumatoid arthritis)
- There is a feeling of friction as a whole
- Has had a knee injury prior to the ACL