When knee pain keeps you from enjoying life on a daily basis, it may be time for knee replacement surgery.
If you cannot sleep because of knee pain or you notice a bent-legged or thump kneed deformation in your knee, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. These types of issues are usually caused by inflammation or degeneration (breakdown) of joints and may cause arthritis that can worsen with age.
There are numerous treatments for arthritis of the knee. The most common is a non-invasive, at-home treatment called “RICE”—Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. This is a short-term treatment that should only be used for a few days. If you keep using RICE, you may delay the natural healing process. Other, more long-term treatments may include bracing, medications and injections which we will go into more detail below. The end goals of any arthritis of the knee treatments should always be the same—limiting the damage or progression of the arthritis and eliminating the pain of the arthritis.
Bracing is used to correct problems with knee alignment or kinematics (motion).
Problems with Knee Alignment
If your knee alignment is too narrow (knock-kneed) or too wide (bowlegged), it increases the stress put on the inside (medial) or outside (lateral) compartment of the knee. A brace will work to reverse the deformity and relieve the increased stress in the affected compartment. In order for this treatment to work, it is important to wear the brace daily.
Problems with Knee Kinematics (Motion)
Problems with knee kinematics may include weight-bearing pain, pain or inability to bend your knee, pain or struggle when walking. In order to compensate, you may develop an abnormal motion usually due to weakness in one of the four main ligaments in the knee. This is most likely due to an injury, but may also be seen due to other factors such as obesity. Using a brace in this instance gives the knee stability by substituting for the damaged ligament. Again though, in order for this treatment to work, it is important to wear the brace daily.
If knee pain is long term, your primary care physician or rheumatology specialist may suggest medication. Medications can be used to limit joint damage due to inflammation within the joint, thereby decreasing or eliminating the pain caused by the inflammation.
Medications fall into three categories:
It may be necessary to try a number of medications to find the one best suited for you.
Injections for knee pain can have various degrees of effectiveness. This is because the effectiveness is linked to the severity of arthritis that you present at the time of injection.
Injections fall into three broad categories:
Your primary care doctor, rheumatology or orthopedic specialist will advise you on whether injection therapy is a viable option in your treatment plan and the type of injection best suited for you.
When Should I Consider Knee Replacement?
If you have attempted a number of treatment options, like the ones above, and are not noticing increased relief of symptoms, it may be time to consult with an orthopedic knee surgeon.
Finding the Right Orthopedic Knee Surgeon
While finding an orthopedic knee surgeon may come down to your comfort level, there are some “must-haves” when it comes to choosing a reputable one that is patient-outcome based:
- Make sure they are board certified
- Consider years of experience with both partial and total knee replacement
- Read testimonials or patient reviews
- Know what your insurance and/or Medicare covers
Both partial and total knee replacements have become highly effective in the restoration of lost function and the elimination of the pain often caused by knee arthritis over the last decade thanks to advancements in technology, surgical techniques, biomaterials and patient data and research.
Get back to the quality life you deserve to have without debilitating knee pain, set up a consultation with your doctor today.