Alternatives to Knee Replacement Surgery

If you’re hearing crunching sounds from your knee when climbing the stairs, or it’s swollen and painful, it’s probably osteoarthritis. If this is it, you’re probably considering getting knee replacement surgery.

But you should know total or partial knee replacements are just some of the options. You might not need it immediately, or you might not be a good candidate for the procedure. Either you are too young, or your case isn’t severe enough to warrant total knee replacement surgery.

Whatever the case, you owe it to yourself to try alternative procedures before seeing a surgeon. At Eastshore Healthcare, we’ll help you consider potential alternatives to knee replacement surgery and help you through them. Contact us today for your initial consultation.

Anatomy of the Knee

A joint is where two or more bones meet. Many joints are mobile, allowing for smooth movement. The knee joint is simply two long leg bones held together by tendons, ligaments, and muscles. The bone ends are layered with cartilage, which protects the knee and absorbs shock.

The muscle groups involved in knee movement include the quadriceps and the hamstrings. The quadriceps are found on the front of the thighs and straighten the legs, while the hamstring muscles are at the back of the thighs and are responsible for mobility in bending the knee.

Tendons are connective tissue that connects bones and muscles, while ligaments connect bone to bone. Some ligaments provide protection and stability to the knee, while others limit backward and forward movement of the shin bone (tibia).

Aside from the tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, the knee also consists of the:

  • Tibia: The shin bone. It’s the larger bone in the lower leg
  • Femur: This is the thigh bone
  • Patella: The kneecap
  • Synovial membrane: This is tissue lining and sealing the joint forming a capsule. The membrane produces synovial fluid to lubricate the joint.
  • Meniscus: the curved portion of cartilage in the joint. It absorbs shock, deepens the joint, and increases the surface for contact.

Alternatives of Knee Replacement Surgery

If you are experiencing knee pain and are looking for knee pain management without the serious complications attached to knee joint replacement surgery, you should consider the following non-surgical treatments:

With the serious complications attached to knee joint replacement surgery, you should consider the following non-surgical treatments:

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cells are best explained as immature cells that subdivide and grow into different mature cells performing specific tasks. There are three kinds of stem cells including:

  • Adult stem cells – these are found in the bone marrow, joints, blood, fat, and other tissues. They are also known as mesenchymal stem cells.
  • Induced stem cells – These are created from stem cells and grow into adult stem cells.
  • Embryonic stem cells – These are found in embryos and aren’t used in treating osteoarthritis.

In stem cell therapy, the stem cells are used with the body’s natural healing process to accelerate tissue regeneration and healing. The treatment helps restore range of motion, reduce swelling, provide severe pain relief, and improve one’s quality of life.

Although stem cells can make artificial tissue in labs, most health professionals prefer using the patient’s adult stem cells from their bone marrow or blood plasma. This reduces the chances of infection, disease transmission, and tissue rejection.

For patients over 60 years, an allograft type of stem cell is derived from a donor’s amniotic sac after a baby’s delivery. This is done because, at 60+ years, the body doesn’t produce stem cells like before.

How Is Stem Cell Treatment Performed?

Stem cell therapy starts by harvesting stem cells from the blood plasma or bone marrow. Blood stem cells are harvested by taking blood from the vein and separating the stem cells from the plasma and other blood contents using a machine. Bone marrow stem cells are obtained from a donor by driving a needle into the bone marrow (the soft center of a bone).

The stem cells are directly injected into the knee joint to promote tissue regeneration and healing.

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)

PRP is a type of regenerative medicine that uses and amplifies natural growth factors in the blood to aid in healing damaged tissue.

Plasma is the liquid part of blood that mainly contains proteins and water. It provides a medium for circulating white blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells. Platelets are blood cells responsible for blood clots and other healing and growth functions.

The PRP therapy involves injecting a concentration of platelets (two to 8 times their normal concentration) into the knee to accelerate healing. The procedure reduces the need for anti-inflammatory medication and opioids.

How Long Do PRP Injections Work on the Knee?

Studies show that the reduced knee pain after PRP injections lasts for nine months. It was also determined that PRP injections don’t have adverse side effects; hence, they are better than knee replacement.

Hyaluronic Acid (HLA) Injections

A Hyaluronic acid injection can be used for knee osteoarthritis and improve joint function. During the procedure, 2 ml of hyaluronic acid is injected into the knee joint capsule to reduce pain, slow the progression of osteoarthritis, and improve the movement of the knee joint by reducing inflammation and friction and increasing lubrication.

Hyaluronic Acid in the Knee Joint

Healthy knees contain about 4ml of joint fluid. Hyaluronic acid is an important component of joint fluid. It’s the component that gives joint fluid its viscosity and slippery quality, which provides cushioning against impact and allows bones to glide smoothly over each other, consequently reducing friction.

A knee joint with osteoarthritis has a low concentration of hyaluronic acid in the joint fluid, resulting in less protection from impact and friction. This accelerates the degeneration of joints, creating a vicious cycle.

Ideal Candidates for Hyaluronic Acid Injections

Hyaluronic injections are ideal for:

  • Patients with knee joint pain
  • Arthritis
  • Personal injuries
  • Degenerative conditions
  • Chronic conditions

However, these people should only have moderate symptoms affecting their daily activities and not be taking pain medication because of other underlying conditions like diabetes, or they are at a higher risk of heart and kidney problems.

Contact Eastshore Healthcare

If you are a candidate for knee surgery and are considering any of the above alternatives, contact Eastshore Healthcare. At Eastshore Healthcare, our focus is on regenerative medicine, and we excel at it.

Contact us for a consultation and to determine the best solution for your knee problems.