Dear Dr. Olsen
I have been told that I need a knee replacement. It has been hurting on and off for years, but really bad over the last year. I find I don’t want to do much anymore because my knee hurts. I’m not sure I am ready for a knee replacement though. Is there anything else that can be done other than surgery?
When osteoarthritis in the knee progresses to the point that the pain begins to have an effect on your daily activities and quality of life, it is time to consider treatment. However, it is wise to explore all of the simple, non-operative strategies before considering knee replacement surgery. A number of non-operative strategies exist which can be taken in progressive fashion. First, efforts against inflammation can include changing one’s diet, anti-inflammatory medications and injections in the knee. Second, structural efforts such as specific exercise and knee bracing can be helpful. Third, the emerging field of growth factors and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injected directly into the knee in the office setting is offering an impressive number of effective non-operative treatment options.
Each person with knee osteoarthritis has a unique combination of arthritis progression, symptoms, activity limitation and personal goals for activity level. As a result, each treatment plan should be customized to the individual. Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for knee osteoarthritis other than knee replacement surgery. However, a growing number of non-operative strategies exist that can and should be explored before committing to a knee replacement surgery.
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