If you are having chronic knee pain, you may assume that you will be automatically joining the 4.5 million Americans who have already had at least one total knee replacement, but this may not necessarily be true. There are several other options that your orthopedist may recommend you try prior to recommending total replacement surgery. Some of these options may not totally eliminate the need of replacement surgery in your future; they may buy you time, as well as improve your quality of life while you wait. While these recommendations will be based on your specific case and condition, here are a few you may want to discuss with your physician.
Wouldn't it be nice if the weakened or damaged tendons and ligaments in your knees were able to heal themselves? They may be able to do just that through the use of Proliferative Therapy, which is also known as Prolotherapy.
This is a process in which your orthopedist may give you a series of injections of specialized formulas of natural substances into the actual joint of your knee every few weeks for several months. While the actual formulas used will vary based on your physician's preferences, they are designed to be a mild irritant solution that causes a level of temporary inflammation in the joint to trigger your body's natural repair response. The formula will also usually contain local anesthetic agents to reduce the pain of the injection, as well as at the injection site.
The body's natural response will cause the body to repair or create new tissue in the affected area. This new or repaired tissue will help to stabilize and strengthen the affected joint. Once these new tissues are created and the joint is repaired, you will normally experience less pain and inflammation, as well as have a reduced risk of future injury due to the joint's instability.
Hyaluronic Acid Injections
Many people who undergo total knee replacement do so because of the everyday pain they are experiencing that has a direct impact on their daily lives. In an effort to reduce the amount of pain that you are in and buy you more time prior to you having to have knee replacement surgery, your physician may suggest that you have hyaluronic acid injections into your knee joints. Common brand names used for these medications include:
- Supartz and others
These injections work by reintroducing or increasing the amount of hyaluronic acid to the synovial fluid in your knee. Your synovial fluid is the thick, gel-like substance that lubricates and acts as a shock absorber and cushions the impact you place on your knees when you are active. By injecting hyaluronic acid in the joint, your physician will increase the amount of fluid available for the lubrication and cushioning of the joint, as well as increase the viscosity of the original synovial fluid. This may help to reduce the amount of pain that may be caused by bone friction or arthritis.
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy
Another option that is providing relief to a lot of people is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy or P.R.P. Unlike the other two treatments listed above, P.R.P. uses your own blood. This blood has been withdrawn from your body and centrifuged until it is a concentrated mix of plasma cells along with growth factors. This formula is then injected back into your joint to help to stimulate new tissue regeneration and growth. Studies have shown that the distilled growth factors embedded in your own blood helps to keep the body from identifying it as a foreign substance. Once in your body, P.R.P. helps to speed up healing and improve tissue growth.
Speak with an orthopedist, such as Joseph P. Spott, DO, to see if any of these options would be viable for you. Even if they only buy you more time before you have to have a total knee replacement, you may be able to have a better quality of life during this time.