3 Alternatives to Knee Replacement Surgery
Anti-Inflammatory Medications and Supplements
Much of the pain and discomfort in knees is caused by inflammation, which can also cause damage to surrounding tissues by limiting blood flow or putting pressure on them. Sometimes, simply taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve the pain and delay the need for knee replacement surgery. Daily use of these drugs may not be appropriate for everyone, however, so discuss this with your doctor before using them.
Some dietary supplements also have an anti-inflammatory effect if taken on a regular basis. Chondroitin sulfate is a popular supplement that has been shown to support healthy joint function. Omega fatty acids also decrease inflammation in the body.
You may also experience positive results with injections directly into your knee. There are a few helpful chemicals that can be injected, with the most popular being hyaluronic acid, which is naturally present in joints but may decrease in people suffering from osteoarthritis or other conditions.
While knee pain can make it difficult to stay active, cutting out physical activity altogether is harmful and may exacerbate the problem. Normal exercise, especially low-impact activities such as walking or swimming, can help strengthen your body and relieve the pain. Another benefit of staying active is that exercise can help you lose weight, which takes pressure off your knees and can ease your symptoms.
Exercises targeted at your knee and the muscles and tendons that support it can be even more effective. One of the best ways to help relieve knee pain is to work with a physical therapist to develop a personalized exercise routine to strengthen your leg muscles. The right kind of stretches can also improve flexibility without increasing your pain.
Support and Management
Sometimes, minor lifestyle changes can go a long way. Warm compresses can stimulate circulation in your knee, which reduces inflammation and pain. Apply them at night when you are relaxing. Choosing your exercise carefully is also important. Try not to do too much in one day or push yourself too hard.
Simple knee braces can also help relieve pain. You can buy these from most pharmacies or get one from your doctor. These braces can be uncomfortable until you get used to them, as they need to be applied rather tightly. However, they can offer the support and structure that reduces pain.
Many people believe that there are few ways to help chronic knee pain other than full knee replacement, but that is untrue. Although alternative treatments may not completely relieve the pain or address the underlying cause, they can help you postpone major surgery for as long as possible without sacrificing your quality of life. If you are living with chronic knee pain but are not yet ready to consider knee replacement surgery, talk to your doctor about these alternative treatments.