Knee pain can strike at any age. Most people automatically start to worry when the joint discomfort starts to impact their day-to-day life, and they worry that they might face dreaded knee surgery. However, there are alternatives to knee surgery that work well.
All avenues of treatment should be explored before choosing an invasive surgical procedure. You do have options to conquer knee pain without undergoing knee surgery.
13. Weight Loss
Sadly, carrying a few extra pounds takes its toll on your knee joints. Studies have shown that as little as 10 extra pounds increase your risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by 36 percent.
If you are overweight, then you should strive to lose a few pounds by focusing on exercise and diet. Choose an activity that you enjoy, then the pounds might start to drop off and your knee discomfort will lessen.
Exercise activities to consider lessening knee pain include:
- Water exercise
- Neuromuscular training
- Strengthening exercise
- Tai chi
12. Physical Therapy
Many insurance plans cover the services of a qualified physical therapist to reduce knee pain and prevent costly knee replacement surgery. A physical therapist will work closely with you to strengthen the muscles in your legs and reduce knee pain. Most physical therapists will also prescribe you a list of helpful exercises that you can perform to gain the mobility and pain reduction that you seek.
Common physical therapy treatment approaches include:
- Ice and heat to reduce inflammation and pain
- Manual therapy
- Ultrasound therapy
11. Hyaluronic Acid Injections
Hyaluronic acid injected into the knee joint acts as a lubricant. Your knee can better withstand shock and experience improved mobility. Also, the pain is reduced.
10. Over-the-Counter Pain Medications
If you are having trouble with chronic knee pain, then you might want to try over-the-counter medications (OTC) to cope. OTC drugs include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- Topical creams that contain capsaicin, menthol, or cannabidiol (CBD)
9. Prescription Drugs
With severe knee pain, many will seek out the aid of prescription pain medications such as Tramadol or other opioids, which can quickly become addictive. Anyone choosing to use prescription medications should only view the option as a short-term fix.
8. Corticosteroid Injections
An injection of corticosteroids is often administered right into the knee joint to control inflammation and reduce pain. Usually, it takes a couple of days for the injections to take effect, but it will typically render relief for several weeks and is non-addictive.
However, the long-term use of steroids poses many questions. Studies have shown a reduction in cartilage often continued with extended steroid injections. Such changes in the cartilage were noticed after about two years of using the injections to cope with knee pain.
The Chinese have used acupuncture for centuries to relieve pain. They believe that inserting thin, sharp needles into key areas helps to change the flow of energy and ease discomfort. Research has shown some promise in the ancient naturopathic method.
With prolotherapy, an irritant works in the knee’s ligament or tendon via injection. The solution effectively increases the blood flow and nutrient supply to the region to trigger the body’s natural healing capabilities. The solution, known as dextrose, is a simple sugar-based compound.
One study followed individuals suffering from osteoarthritis who underwent prolotherapy at a rate of five injections spaced about four weeks apart. The research revealed that most participants in the study experienced pain reduction after 26 weeks and after a year they still reported improvement in the infected knee.
5. Arthroscopic Surgery
With arthroscopic surgery, a surgeon will remove any pieces of a torn meniscus or bone fragments or cartilage that are continuing to cause problems. They will also repair ligaments that have sustained damage.
Arthroscopic surgery involves the use of a camera which lets the surgeon view the joint through a very small incision. Typically, anywhere from two to four incisions are made so that the surgeon can see all over the knee joint and easily perform the operation via the small incisions.
The technique is far less invasive then full-blown knee surgery. The incisions heal rapidly and most report far less discomfort
4. Plasma-Rich Protein Injections
Osteoarthritic knee pain sufferers have experienced benefits from plasma-rich protein injections (PRP). With the treatment, a small amount of blood is obtained from the sufferer and put through a process known as centrifuge, which quickly separates the platelets that are rich in growth factors. It is then injected into the knee.
3. Stem Cell Treatment
Bone marrow stem cells taken from the hip ease knee pain and help improve function. At this time, this treatment is rare and not typically recommended by experts.
2. Knee Osteotomy
If you have a knee deformity or some form of damage to the knee, then osteotomy might help. It helps to move weight from the damaged portion of the knee to the other. Typically, it is performed in younger patients who have little severe knee damage.
1. Walking Aids
The use of a walking cane or a knee brace offers support and can help the body heal naturally. Shoes with lateral and medial wedge-shaped insoles are also beneficial.