If you’ve been living with knee pain for a long time, you may be wondering if you should consider surgery — and that can be a scary thought. Knee pain is an extremely common complaint and it could stem from multiple causes, like a sports or exercise-related injury, overuse, inflammation or arthritis.
The good news is that many causes of knee pain don’t require surgery to treat. You should explore all your other treatment options before you consider surgery. The other piece of good news is that knee surgery doesn’t have to be the invasive procedure it once was. New minimally invasive surgical techniques have opened doors for surgery to be shorter, safer and require less recovery time afterward.
Non-Operative Treatments for Knee Pain
There are several conservative treatment options for knee pain, knee injuries and arthritis management. Your treatment plan may contain some or all of the following.
Exercise and sports-related knee pain and injuries usually respond well to rest, ice, compression and elevation. When dealing with acute sprains, strains, tears, and inflammation, it’s important to give the injury adequate time to heal before returning to your normal activities. Without complete healing, you run the risk of worsening the injury or experiencing long-term pain and complications.
Over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen can provide pain relief for mild to moderate pain. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can reduce pain and inflammation from sprains, strains, tears and arthritis. If you’re experiencing moderate to severe arthritis pain, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications or prescription NSAIDs
However, patients with a history of ulcer, kidney or liver problems, and those on blood thinning drugs may not be candidates for NSAIDs.
If your knee pain is due to rheumatoid arthritis or other auto-immune types of arthritis, your doctor may prescribe disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to block or prevent inflammation and slow the progression of the disease.
- Physical therapy
Physical therapy may be recommended to help you strengthen the knee joints and surrounding muscles and improve flexibility, range of motion, balance, and tolerance.
- Injections. There are multiple injections that can be given to reduce knee pain caused by arthritis.
Corticosteroid injections provide pain relief and decrease inflammation in damaged joints. While the effects are temporary, they typically last for several months or up to a year or longer, giving you the chance to preserve joint functionality and make a long-term treatment plan.
Hyaluronic acid injections (viscosupplementation) help lubricate irritated and inflamed joints to reduce pain and restore better mobility.
Amniotic fluid injections with multiple types of growth factors have shown some early promise as well.
- Regular exercise.
Regular exercise is essential to maintain and preserve joint strength, flexibility and range of motion. If you’ve experienced one or several knee injuries, or you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, a switch from high-impact exercises to low-impact exercises that are easier on your joints can help. Great options include walking, using an elliptical, swimming, water aerobics, bicycling, yoga, and tai chi.
- Weight management
Excess body weight places increased stress and pressure on weight-bearing joints like the knee. Losing weight can help keep your joints healthier for longer. Talk to your doctor about diet and exercise changes you can incorporate into your schedule.
When It’s Time to Consider Surgery
Non-operative treatments aren’t always effective for knee pain, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with a condition like arthritis, which causes progressive joint damage. Sustaining one or more knee injuries increases your chances of developing arthritis or chronic pain and damage in the future. It’s time to ask your doctor about surgical options if you have:
- Difficulty walking, standing, climbing stairs, or getting in and out of a car
- Pain that affects your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night
- Difficulty performing light or low-impact exercise
- Difficulty moving your knee through its full range of motion
- Pain that requires you to take medications like ibuprofen or naproxen every day just to complete normal daily tasks
- Pain that’s present even while you’re at rest
Additionally, it’s time to consider surgery if your knee pain is contributing to a decreased quality of life. Chronic pain affects every aspect of life and makes it difficult to work, go on social outings and enjoy time relaxing with family and loved ones. You don’t need to live with depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation caused by severe pain. Call the team at Outpatient Joint Replacement Centers of America (OJRCA) so we can discuss minimally invasive partial or total knee replacement procedures.
How OJRCA Is Different
At OJRCA, our team performs minimally invasive, outpatient partial and total knee replacement surgeries. During the procedure, we use minimally invasive surgical techniques to remove the worn, damaged surface of the joint and replace it with a new artificial surface. The surrounding ligaments and connective tissues are preserved to ensure proper balance, alignment and structure in the knee joint. After surgery and with the help of aggressive physical therapy, our patients are able to resume most normal activities.
There are several things that set our procedures apart from other medical clinics that perform knee surgeries.
1. Our surgeries are minimally invasive and performed in the outpatient ambulatory surgery center (ASC) setting. Minimally invasive techniques require smaller incisions, cause less damage to nearby soft tissues, and result in fewer post-surgery complications like infections. We have our patients home a few hours after surgery, eliminating the need for costly hospitalizations that put a strain on both our healthcare system and your personal finances.
2. We’ve spent years refining our unique pain protocols, which we tailor to each patient experience. Our protocols limit post-surgery pain and reduce the necessity of long-term use of dangerous, addictive narcotics for pain management. And because they feel much less pain after surgery, our patients are more motivated to start walking and work hard with physical therapy to speed up recovery.
3. We get our patients up and walking within 2 hours following surgery. Getting our patients moving again as soon as they can is crucial to the healing process. It prevents stiffness and lowers the risk of developing blood clots.
Following knee replacement surgery, our patients start outpatient rehabilitation and physical therapy the next day. With hard work and adherence to performing daily home exercises, many of our patients are back to their normal activities within a few weeks.
Do You Have Questions For Us? Call OJRCA Today.
If you’re suffering from chronic knee pain and conservative measures aren’t effective to manage your symptoms, please call OJRCA. Our experienced team is here to sit down with you, provide a full evaluation, and discuss all treatment options with you. If you have any questions at all about our methods, procedures, or pain protocols, ask away! At OJRCA, we treat every patient like family.
We’ve found that in over 80-90% of cases, total joint replacement surgery performed as an outpatient is proven as a safe AND better choice for patients with advanced arthritis.
Call us at 813-492-4412 or reach out online.