If you experience knee pain which is caused by arthritis, knee replacement surgery will usually be the last resort. There are knee replacement alternatives available including arthroscopy, UniSpacer, braces, injections, and medications.
Arthroscopy is a common surgical alternative to knee replacement surgery. It allows a surgeon to see inside the joint and the spaces that surround the joint. The surgeon will be able to detect and treat any damaged tissue. This procedure is less invasive requiring small incisions, and patients recover more quickly and experience less post-operative pain. Patients are typically allowed to return home the same day.
The UniSpacer Implant is a small, metallic disk which is inserted into the knee joint. It is designed to help relieve arthritic pain and improve joint stability. It establishes appropriate knee alignment and ligament tension while preserving the natural bone. It will center itself and adapt to the natural motion of the knee. It is an excellent knee replacement alternative since it eliminates the need to cut bone and cement an implant.
Braces are designed to transfer the pressure from areas with bad cartilage to areas with healthy cartilage. Unfortunately, they only benefit patients that have healthy cartilage within their knee which can withstand stress.
There are two types of injections a patient can receive which are relatively painless. The first is a steroid injection which reduces joint inflammation. They are given a maximum of three times per year. The second is a lubricating injection which improves lubrication, elasticity, and joint motion. They are given once a week for approximately three to five weeks.
Anti-inflammatory medications are also helpful for patients with arthritic pain. They typically produce few side effects. Naproxen and Ibuprofen are anti-inflammatory medications which may be purchased over-the-counter. Celebrex and Vioxx are stronger medications which require a prescription from a doctor.
If you are experiencing arthritic knee pain, you should discuss knee replacement alternatives with your physician before committing to surgery.