When to Consider Knee Replacement Alternatives
Osteoarthritis is the wearing away of cartilage, resulting in pain and swelling. This is the most common reason that people seek out knee replacement surgery. However, you and your doctor may decide that a knee replacement is not the best option for you.
Reasons why you may consider knee replacement alternatives include:
- Heart or lung problems that increase your risks with knee replacement surgery
- Infection of your knee or hip
- Previous surgery or injury that may hinder successful joint replacement
- Unhealthy tissue surrounding the knee joint
- Weak thigh muscles that make it difficult to walk and use your knee
- Body Mass Index (BMI) that increases your risk factors for surgery
Know your options - joint injections and other alternatives
If you have arthritis in one or both knees, you’re already thinking about how you can maintain mobility and continue the activities key to a good quality of life. In addition to maintaining a healthy weight and adapting your daily activities to lessen the impact on your knees, your doctor will discuss other long-term knee replacement alternatives.
- Steroid knee joint injections can reduce the pain and swelling caused by arthritis. Although you can have no more than three shots per year, the effects can last for months. You may be tempted to resume activities that once caused your pain. Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend exercises and stretches that will decrease the chance of your knee pain returning.
- Visco-supplementation replenishes the synovial fluid surrounding the joints with injections of hyaluronic acid. This viscous liquid occurs naturally in synovial fluid and acts as a shock absorber and an anti-inflammatory. The injections are given in a series and may take several weeks to be effective, then may last several months. Your doctor may repeat the injection in about six months.
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections involve a process that uses your own blood and re-injects it into the affected area. During this process, your provider will draw blood and process it to increase the platelet count before re-injecting. If cortisone injections and physical therapy are unsuccessful, PRP injections may be an option.
As arthritis continues to progress, knee joint injections may become less effective. Ultimately, you and your provider may reconsider knee replacement surgery.