7 Effective Alternatives to a Knee Replacement Surgery
Before you go under the surgeon’s knife, you should consider alternatives to a knee replacement surgery. You may be an excellent candidate for orthobiologic treatments that can delay or even remove the need for surgery. These minimally invasive treatments can lubricate joints, protect cartilage cells, improve shock absorption, activate healing response, and harness the patient’s own repair cells.
What are Biologics?
Biologics are powerful medications that come from or contain components of living organisms. Biologic drugs can come from plants, mammals, birds, insects and even bacteria. They utilise natural components like sugars, proteins, and DNA
These biological medications are used to prevent, treat, and cure human disease and ailments. Since biologics come from a wide array of sources, they also have a wide array of applications. They are used as vaccines, cell and gene therapies, tissues for transplants, and more.
What are Orthobiologics?
Orthobiologics are a type of biologics used in orthopaedics. Orthopaedics is the field of medicine that treats a patient’s musculoskeletal system, which includes your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves.
Orthobiologic Alternative Options to Knee Replacement Surgery
Orthobiologics are commonly used to treat bad knees. The treatments aim to promote the healing response in the degenerate joint and reduce inflammation that can worsen the problem. The goal is to:
- Reduce pain
- Improve function and mobility
- Delay more substantial treatments, like knee replacement surgery
The most promising orthobiologics are Platelet Rich Plasma, nSTRIDE, Hyaluronic Acid, and Lipogems. These treatments and therapies are minimally invasive and have helped a lot of people who suffer from knee injuries, arthritis, and more.
PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma)
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is also known as Autologous Conditioned Plasma. This treatment takes a patient’s blood and extracts the beneficial platelet rich plasma, which is then reinjected to the target area. The PRP is packed full of natural growth factors that promote healing and reduces inflammation.
PRP knee therapy is still being clinically studied, but many studies have shown significant clinical improvements in patients. Even though research is ongoing, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says a PRP knee procedure doesn’t raise any major safety concerns. The general consensus is that PRP knee therapy is a safe alternative that is worth trying before going under the surgical knife.
nStride Autologous Protein Solution (APS), or simply known as nStride, is a therapy designed for patients who suffer from knee osteoarthritis. “Autologous” means it comes from your own body. nStride uses high concentrations of anti-inflammatory proteins to treat joint pain and protect cartilage cells.
The treatment helps reduce joint pain, improve joint function, and may slow the progression of osteoarthritis in your knees. Again, the treatment is minimally invasive. The doctor gives a single injection directly into the knee joint. It may sound painful, but the temporary discomfort has relieved knee pain for many patients.
Hyaluronic acid works somewhat like similarly-sounding hydraulic fluid. But instead of a machine, it lubricates and provides shock absorption for your knees. As a biologic, it is found naturally in synovial joints but can also be manufactured from non-biological sources.
In addition to reducing joint pain and stiffness, hyaluronic acid may help cartilage regeneration. Studies have shown that patients experience significant improvements in their pain when they are active and when they are resting. Patients also report an improvement in function. You can expect to experience the best results in 1 to 3 months after injection.
When you hear the word Lipogems®, you may think of liposuction, and there’s good reason for that. “Lipo” means fat, which is exactly where this orthobiologic is sourced from. Lipogems® is a new minimally invasive treatment that takes repair cells from your own body fat. Doctors prepare your repair cells and administer them to problematic tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles, including osteoarthritis.
Doctors use local anaesthesia to numb the area of your stomach where they take the fat cells. After they process them, they inject the repair cells into the damaged joint or joints. Lipogems® hasn’t been around very long, but it has helped tens of thousands of patients according to physician testimonials and patient testimonials.
Non-Invasive Alternatives to Knee Surgery and Knee Replacement
If “minimally invasive” is still too invasive for you, there are non-invasive options that you can try. These measures usually involve a lifestyle change, like weight loss, physical therapy, or activity modification.
Weight Loss and Exercise
Weight loss and exercise is the go-to recommendation, and for a good reason. According to Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, overweight women have nearly 4 times the risk of knee osteoarthritis. The risk is even greater for overweight men, at 5 times that of a healthy weight individual. Losing even small amounts of weight can make a big difference, reducing the risk of knee OA by more than 50%!
Physical therapy can also help reduce pain and strengthen the muscles in your knee. Physical therapy, if done correctly and consistently, can shift pressure on your knees, improve function, and reduce inflammation.
Sometimes the solution isn’t trying something new but stopping something old. You may have to consider giving up certain activities that are aggravating your knee joints. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on being active. Runners, for instance, may need to give up running but they can take up cycling.
Which Alternatives to a Knee Replacement is Right for You?
To answer this question, you will need to consult an orthopaedic doctor that specialises in these alternative treatments. Different injuries and knee problems will require different treatments. Ultimately, you may still need knee surgery or a knee replacement, but exploring these options is the best place to start.
The Midland Knee Protect Clinic can answer your questions and help design a treatment plan for you. Learn more about their treatments and how they can help relieve your pain and save you from knee surgery.