Maybe your knee aches and swells for no good reason, even when you’re sitting down. Maybe it hurts when you’re climbing stairs. Or maybe you’re an athlete who just doesn’t have the game you once had.
Any of that can be disconcerting, especially if pain is stopping you from doing the things you want to do, whether it’s walking, hiking, or even winning a tennis match. It could mean that it’s time to consider seeing an orthopedic doctor.
When you do, there’s a good chance your doctor won’t suggest surgery right away. There are a few more conservative treatments physicians will typically try before recommending knee replacement surgery.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
Several non-surgical treatments to reduce knee pain are below.
- Schedule physical therapy. This is often the first option doctors recommend for knee pain. Stretching and strengthening the muscles around your knees can reduce stress on them and help you maintain better alignment.
- Lose weight. Losing weight reduces pressure on your knees and can help alleviate pain.
- Get a brace. Braces provide stability to the knee joints and can reduce pain and inflammation and strengthen your knee muscles.
- Take anti-inflammatory medications. These medications, which help reduce swelling, are often prescribed for people who suffer from arthritis.
- Get Injections. Cortisone and hyaluronic acid injections are usually used for fast, temporary relief from arthritis pain. Platelet-rich plasma injections, which use cells from the patient’s own blood, are a newer way to treat the pain.
- Take nutritional supplements. Glucosamine and chondroitin, substances found in cartilage, can slow cartilage deterioration in joints.
When Knee Replacement Surgery is the Right Choice
If you’re still in pain after exhausting the non-surgical treatments, your doctor might talk to you about knee replacement surgery. The procedure, called arthroplasty, can provide pain relief, improve mobility, and improve your quality of life. It can also impact your overall health because, after you recover, you’ll be able to move more freely and exercise more often.
During the procedure, your surgeon will remove the damaged or worn parts of your knee joint and replace them with artificial joints made of metal and plastic. These implants can last for 15 to 20 years, or even longer.
The surgery takes from one to three hours to perform, and about six months to a year to fully recover.
During your recovery, you’ll work with a physical therapist to help you get your best possible range of motion. You’ll also work with your care team to create a lifestyle plan that will help you keep your new knee as healthy as possible. So if you find yourself trying to grin and bear it, toughing out your knee pain while making excuses for what you can’t do every day, you might want to talk with one of our orthopedists. Or if you have questions about knee replacement surgery, check out HancockSurgery.com, where you can find answers.