Exploring alternative treatments for knee replacement

Artificial knee replacement is not a perfect solution for knee joint ailments. Today, we have new techniques and alternatives available that are less complicated, cost-effective and less painful. When non-surgical treatments such as diet, exercise and medication fail, clinicians suggest knee replacement. A clear diagnosis of damage and awareness to opt for alternative treatment can make the patient’s life easy, healthy and avoid the risk of traumatic surgery.

Since the first knee replacement was performed in 1968, and the number of procedures is growing globally each year. Knee replacement, also known as arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure in which damaged parts of knee joints are replaced with metal and plastic parts. Knee replacement has become a common approach to tackling degenerative diseases, severe pain, injuries or any medical condition limiting everyday activities involving knee movements. Artificial knee replacements involve cost, lot of effort to recover and most importantly, they might not meet the patient’s expectation of getting back to a completely normal lifestyle.

Arthroscopy and microfracture are examples of minimally invasive surgical procedures helpful in repairing any damage through small surgical incisions. These procedures can avoid the complications of knee surgery such as lengthy recovery periods and associated risks, or need for revision surgery. In prolotherapy, in-situ injection of dextrose solution increases the blood flow and supplies nutrients and stimulates the tissue to repair itself, thus avoiding the need for surgery.

In cases where knee replacement is suggested, the damage to tissue or bone must be estimated. There is a possibility that partial replacement of these parts could be a better approach. The HemiCAP implants are proving effective in restoring only the damaged area of the joint instead of a total replacement. Osteotomy involves cutting the leg bone, realigning it, and allowing it to heal. It is used to shift weight from a damaged part of the knee to a normal or less damaged one. Such treatments surpass risks associated with artificial implants and infections.

"HemiCAP implants are proving effective in restoring only the damaged area of the joint instead of a total replacement."

It has been found that stem cell therapy reduces pain and repairs the knee. In autologous chondrocyte therapy (ACT), bone marrow stem cells from the hip are used for regenerating cartilage tissue.  Regenexx stem cell therapy and platelet rich plasma procedure is one of most advanced regenerative injection treatments. Some traditional and conventional treatments, such as knee braces, shoe inserts, medication, weight loss, acupuncture and physiotherapy, if practiced by following an in-depth analysis of disease can also give profound relief from knee pain. The treatment must be targeting the diagnosed issues. In case of physiotherapy, targeting the strengthening of hip or joint muscles can relieve knee pain upon diagnosis of muscle weakness.

Knee replacement has been an undisputed primary treatment approach for knee joint dysfunctions. Currently, we have few alternative treatments to consider as first line therapies. It must be understood that none of the treatments available today can treat all complications. Knee treatment options entirely depend on medical conditions and vary from case to case, so an inflexible consideration of a particular treatment as the superior and foremost option could mask better alternatives.

Healthcare professionals and companies dealing in the orthopedic segment should concentrate on proper diagnosis and deep dive into case studies to identify root causes to opt for appropriate treatments. They must spread public awareness about knee replacement, and social media plays a vital role here. Patients must consult with their doctors to explore alternatives. The future looks healthy with the increase in usage of knee treatment alternatives in developed markets.