Non-Surgical Knee Treatments
In some cases, the damage to the knee’s cartilage may not be severe enough to warrant knee replacement surgery. While there may still be mild pain, this can be managed through a number of non-invasive options. Mr. McKenna will determine, in conjunction with each individual patient, if knee replacement is needed right away, or if it may be put off while much more conservative treatment is undergone.
Alternatives to knee replacement surgery include:
Weight loss and exercise
Relieving the burden carried by your knees can go a long way towards delaying or eliminating the need for surgery. It has been shown that losing even 15 pounds can significantly increase the quality of life in patients suffering from any number of knee conditions. Exercise will not only help the weight loss, it will also provide the knee with mobility and strength, which further reduces the pain.
Chartered physiotherapists are trained to provide strength and mobility training to rehabilitate the function of muscles. When it comes to the knee, a regimented program from a physical therapist can be crucial in extending the life of your knee. Physical therapists can also use a number of other treatments to promote strength, including nerve stimulation, ultrasound, ice and heat, and other therapies that stimulate increased blood flow and muscle strength.
There are many medications available to reduce inflammation and provide relief. In some cases it may be even administered as a topical cream to control knee pain. Over the counter medications such as paracetamol and ibuprofen should be taken as the first line to control pain. Additionally, you may be prescribed stronger, more effective analgesics such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. This class of medication works particularly well in the cases of painful arthritic joints. These should be used with caution as there are side-effects that can cause gastritis, kidney damage and prolonged use can lead to blood pressure abnormalities. Ask your GP about which medication is right for you.
There are two basic types of knee injection. The most common and more effective is a steroid (cortisone) injection. These serve to mimic natural hormones in the body, which help reduce inflammation at the knee joint. While these treatments are temporary, they can be administered in conjunction with other therapies for best results. Steroid injection therapy has a variable length of effect and can be repeated if necessary.
The second and less effective type of injection therapy is known as viscosupplementation. It involves the injection of a naturally occurring compound present in knee joint fluid called hyaluronic acid (Suplasyn, Durolene, Synvisc, etc.) directly into the knee joint. It acts as a lubricant to enable bones to move smoothly. It is most effective in patients who have a mild form of arthritis. The long-term effects have not yet been proven.