Alternatives to knee replacement

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By the year 2023, total knee replacement surgeries are projected to grow by over 600 percent to 3.5 million procedures per year! While nearly half of all American adults develop knee osteoarthritis in at least one knee during their lifetime, is replacement surgery the only answer?

How can you determine if you’ve reached that point? Some experts are now questioning if knee replacement surgery is being done too soon on patients, before they’ve had a chance to explore other options.

Mathew Pombo, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon at Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center says, “We’re seeing arthritis at an earlier age. So, having alternatives and ways to treat arthritis is important.”

One option is losing weight! Sometimes this can significantly decrease knee pain. Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, or corticosteroids are all less invasive treatment options than surgery. If these aren’t giving you results, get gel injections directly into the knee joint to lubricate it.

Exercise and physical therapy should also be tried if you want to exhaust all other options first.

“I think people have to weigh every option and what’s best for themselves,” continued Dr. Pombo.

Up to 20 percent of patients end up dissatisfied with the outcome of their surgical procedure. This is why it’s vital you understand the clear benefits and harms of knee replacement surgery. The recovery is no walk in the park!

Currently, around 12 percent of adults in the United States have painful arthritic knees that limit mobility, and each year more than 640 thousand have them replaced at a cost of well over 10 billion dollars a year. Experts say knee replacements last between 10 and 20 years, so delaying your surgery is sometimes your best option.

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