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What are the Best Alternatives to Knee Replacement?

Learn About the Leading Options

Elective Total Knee Replacements (TKRs) are on the rise across the country. Dramatic improvements in knee replacement technology and surgical techniques have made it one of the safest and most reliable major procedures on the market. Furthermore, increasing obesity levels in the American public have led to both greater general knee pain and rising diagnoses of osteoarthritis.

But just because you have been told you are “bone-on-bone” and have been recommended a Total Knee Replacement, doesn’t mean you should do it. It’s crucial you understand all of the risks of such a surgery and explore all the options available to you. By exploring these leading alternatives, you can possibly avoid or prolong undergoing a major surgical procedure.

Top Knee Replacement Alternatives

Viscosupplementation Injections

A viscous gel is added to your joint to supplement the volume of natural hyaluronic acid currently in your joint. It lubricates the joint and acts as a cushion to prevent the painful joint friction caused by osteoarthritis.

Radiofrequency Ablation

This treatment addresses the genicular nerves that cause knee pain. An RF generator produces heat to a painful nerve-ending causing you pain with the goal of long-term relief up to 1 year or longer.

Peripheral Nerve Stimulator

Affected nerves receive light electrical impulses to mask the normal signal sent to the brain to reduce or eliminate the chronic pain. This minimally invasive procedure uses a small implant the size of an eraser head placed just under the skin in the soft tissue.

Slow-Release Steroid Injections

More commonly known as a cortisone injection, this treatment reduces inflammation and pain due to osteoarthritis or injury. A specific brand called Zilretta has an extended release that’s safe for diabetic patients with a lower risk for blood glucose spikes.

Autologous Stem Cell Injections

Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC’s) have a unique ability to differentiate into cartilage cells, bone cells, and fat cells. The effect of these activated MSC’s within a joint or injured tissue is three-fold:

  1. To differentiate into cartilage cells for re-engineering and repair of damaged cartilage;
  2. To inhibit the formation of scar tissue; and
  3. To inhibit the role of inflammation.

This treatment will likely lead the revolution in Regenerative Medicine Therapies.

Alpha-2-Macroglobulin Injections

A newer technology, this treatment seeks to stop osteoarthritis at the molecular level, especially in people who contract the condition via traumatic knee injury. It can decrease the rate at which cartilage breaks down in your knees, while also increasing healthy tissue growth with the goal of inhibiting progressive arthritis.

Platelet-Rich Plasma

Commonly referred to as PRP, this treatment delivers a concentrated batch of platelets within a small volume of plasma. While platelets typically take care of blood clotting, they also help your body heal from wounds. Hence, PRP injections often have up to 10 times the normal level of platelets found in plasma. Research has shown PRP to be effective for the treatment of osteoarthritis and many forms of tendonitis.

Amniotic Tissue Injections

As amniotic tissue possesses potent regenerative powers, it’s perfect for treating stubborn injuries like joint pain from osteoarthritis. This treatment injects the tissue into the affected area and encourages increased healing and recovery without the presence of scarring.

Reasons to Choose a Knee Replacement Alternative

It’s important to understand that a TKR isn’t always avoidable, but it is an elective procedure. Methods exist to help patients manage long-term knee pain safely and effectively, including the treatments listed above. Also, lowering your body weight by even 10% with exercise could have dramatically positive effects on your knee pain.

Furthermore, not all patients are good candidates for TKR. Reasons include comorbid factors such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, which means such patients are at higher risks for complications. Other patients simply want to avoid TKR out of concern for the risks of it not working or risks of other complications. With some patients, age is also a factor and the risks may out-weigh the benefits.

Ultimately, you have choice when it comes to treating your knee pain. So, before you start down the path toward major surgery, we first recommend researching all of the best possible alternatives you have to Total Knee Replacement.

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