We run on them. We pray on them. We twist, bend, and bump them. We crawl
on them and jump with them and abuse them over and over. And, yet, they
faithfully take it all. Until the day they don’t.
Our knees are amazing machines. But, over time, machines wear down. When
the pain starts to hold you back from taking the dog for a walk, playing
with the kids, or walking up the stairs, it’s time to consider your options.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports that almost half of
all American adults develop knee osteoarthritis in at least one knee during
their lifetime. While
knee surgery is not the first option, the fact remains many of us will have to deal
with serious knee pain at some point. So when is the right time for knee surgery?
First, you want to talk to your doctor about your knee pain. Typically,
your doctor will want to start with over-the-counter options like Tylenol
or ibuprofen to fight the inflammation and decrease pain. There are also
topical creams or ointments available that have a similar effect, without
having to take a pill. Additionally, some elect to take nutritional supplements
such as glucosamine and chondroitin, which, in some studies, have proven
to work as well as nonprescription painkillers without the side effects.
A few other factors that can cause knee pain is lack of exercise and weight
gain. The stronger your muscles are around your knee, the healthier your
knee, so you want to exercise regularly. Plus, exercise keeps your knees
from getting stiff and sore. Controlling your weight is also easier with
consistent exercise. Did you know that every pound gained puts an extra
three pounds of pressure on your knees? Losing a couple pounds or keeping
weight off can have a profound impact on the health of your knees.
If over-the-counter medications, exercise, and weight loss don’t
work, your provider may suggest a corticosteroid injection, also called
a cortisone shot, which an anti-inflammatory injection. Another possibility
is a viscosupplementation injection, which is a boost of hyaluronic acid,
the natural joint fluid that keeps your knees moving smoothly. Both can
relieve pain for several months.
Once all conservative options have been considered, and results aren’t
promising, your doctor may suggest knee surgery. Luckily knee replacements
are fairly routine these days. By 2030, total knee replacement surgeries
are projected to reach 3.5 million per year and over 90% of those patients
experience a dramatic reduction in pain.
Additionally, modern knee replacement technology has dramatically reduced
recovery time. St. Mary’s Medical Center has recently begun scheduling
patients for knee replacements using the very latest in robotic-assisted
knee replacement – the
NAVIOTM Surgical System. As a surgeon, this has been a game changer for my patients. The NAVIOTM gives me the ability to customize each surgery. It uses a sophisticated
software program that collects precise information about each individual
patient, so it is as minimally invasive as possible. Simply put, less
unnecessary trauma to the joint means less time you’ll spend recovering
and more time getting back to your life.
If you are interested in learning more, join me on Wednesday, November
29, from 6 – 7 P.M. I’ll be presenting a free knee pain seminar
in the Education Center at St. Mary's Medical Center. Just call 816-228-5900
Robert F. Greiner, DO, is a board-certified Orthopedic Surgeon and can
be reached at 816-317-5070 via his website at greinerorthopedics.com.