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8 Knee Surgery Alternatives

By December 24, 2022No Comments

Did you know that the knee is the largest joint in the human body? The joint not only connects our upper and lower leg, but also helps us execute any movement, whether running, walking, or swimming. However, unfortunately, it’s vulnerable to many injuries and requires immediate medical attention.

People suffer from various knee injuries, and almost every injury is treatable. An injured knee will inhibit your movement regardless of the injury’s grade. It’s important to know what’s causing you knee pain and how to get rid of it.

Therefore, a physician first identifies the cause of your knee pain to choose the right treatment for your condition.Remember that surgery is the last resort in any health condition, and your healthcare provider will opt for knee surgery alternatives to reduce inflammation in your knee. Here are 9 effective alternative methods:

1. Physical Therapy

The best way to heal your knee is to follow a physical therapy course with the help of a trainer. Usually, therapists serve patients who want to naturally recover from knee injuries. There are several exercises your trainer will guide you through depending on your knee injury type. 

The most prominent ones include the following:

Quadriceps Stretch

The quadricep is the muscle on the front thigh which impacts the knee joints when you move it. It’s also one of the strongest muscles in the human body. Your physical therapist will train you how to stretch your quadriceps to reduce knee pain and keep your knee and hip flexible after an injury. 

Here’s how to stretch your quadriceps at home:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and take support with a wall or any other strong object.
  • Bend one of your knees by raising your feet backward to your glutes (hip’s back).
  • Now, gently grab your ankle of the raised foot and stretch it as far as possible for 20-30 seconds.
  • Change the leg and repeat the exercise twice a day.

Heel and Calf Stretch

This exercise stretches your lower leg, i.e., the calf muscle and knee joints. Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand in front of a wall, facing it.
  • Get support from the wall by placing both your stands on it, arms straight.
  • Stretch one foot back as far as possible. Ensure you keep your toes and feet straight, heels flat, and knees slightly bent.
  • Lean into the stretching position. The pressure should be exerted on your leg’s back.
  • Change the leg and repeat the set.

Half Squats

Half squats put pressure on your hamstring without impacting much on the knee joints. Follow these steps to perform half squats:

  • Stand in the squatting position.
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Spread your arms in front of you to balance your body weight.
  • Keep looking straight and squat down almost halfway to a full squat.
  • Pause in the same position for a few seconds.
  • Force your heels to stand up again.
  • Repeat the half squats sets twice or thrice.

Hamstring Curl

The standing hamstring curls boost your strength and help your hamstring, calf, and knee stay balanced. Here’s how to perform standing hamstring curls:

  • With your feet hip-width apart, stand with support to balance your body.
  • Slowly bend your knee and lift your leg.
  • Raise your heel upwards and curl the leg as much as possible. Ensure you stand still throughout the stretch.
  • Wait for 5-10 seconds in the curled position.
  • Lower your leg and relax before curling the other leg.

Although physical therapies have almost no health risk, they extend the recovery period.

2. Weight Loss

Obesity can result in multiple knee injuries as your joint becomes stressed with the excessive weight. Stress causes intense pain in your knee joint, which in worse situations, also affects your mobility. 

Multiple studies have found that obesity relates to a high risk of knee arthritis, knee pain, and cartilage damage. Not only that, but having extra weight can also increase knee osteoarthritis risks by 36%. In contrast, if you lose 10 extra pounds, you put 4 times less pressure on your knees. 

Therefore, losing extra weight can help you avoid the chances of going under surgery, or at least, delay it for some time. You can seek help from a professional nutritionist and a physical therapist to lose weight easily. The nutritionist will plan a special weight-loss diet and the therapist will plan a weight loss exercise plan. 

Both exercising and dieting will help you lose weight healthily. Some effective weight loss exercises include brisk walking, yoga, water exercise, tai chi, and much more. 

Make sure you’re doing the exercises you love, as experts think that this will keep you motivated and committed to your workout routine. Group workouts are also an excellent way to enjoy your exercising time.

3. Prolotherapy

Prolotherapy is an effective knee surgery alternative that has been used since the 1950s for knee, back, neck, and rotator cuff injuries. Many healthcare providers also perform prolotherapy to thicken the ligaments or tendons in any part of your body. It helps treat many musculoskeletal conditions. 

Since knee injuries involve degeneration or tearing of ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and meniscus, prolotherapy can be an effective knee surgery alternative. Your doctor will inject dextrose (sugar) into the affected area to boost natural healing. After that, prolotherapy also stabilizes your knee for normal mobility. 

Although this method works on many patients, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not authorize prolotherapy. To determine whether or not it is good for your knee injury, your doctor will evaluate your condition thoroughly. 

4. Hyaluronic Acid Injections

Hyaluronic acid is a component found in the joints’ fluid. It acts as a lubricant and prevents post-injury swelling. This therapy is also known as knee injections as it relieves you from knee pain and makes your knee mobile.

However, many doctors and physicians don’t recommend using hyaluronic acid injection knee treatment because of a lack of research and results.

5. Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid, or steroid injection, is another way to reduce knee pain and inflammation. Your doctor will inject the anti-inflammatory drug into the injured area, and you will feel a reduction in the pain in a few days. The effect of steroids will last for weeks.

However, some medical experts don’t recommend long-term usage of steroids. That’s because some patients who were administered steroid injections reported no improvements and reduced cartilage in the injury site after 2 years of the treatment. 

Nevertheless, corticosteroid injections show effective results on many patients with knee pain. The Arthritis Foundation Guideline also recommends the use of corticosteroid injections for knee injuries. 

6. Pain Relief Medications

Although not exactly a knee surgery alternative, pain relief medications can provide you pain relief for a considerable amount of time. Your doctor will first start with some over-the-counter (OTC) medications for pain management. Some of these medications include:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
  • Capsaicin

In case the OTC medications fail to provide you pain relief, your doctor will recommend some more potent options. Typically, tramadol and duloxetine are the best knee pain relief medications out there. But they can be addictive, so make sure to follow the plan given by your doctor.

7. Acupuncture

Among all other traditional therapies, acupuncture is the most ancient one with proven results. It’s from an ancient Chinese tradition in which therapists use needles to redirect the energy within your body to boost healing and reduce knee pain.

This knee surgery alternative gives short-term results, and research also supports acupuncture, especially for arthritis patients. There is also low to no risk in trying acupuncture. However, its benefits are still under observation.

8. Orthobiologic Methods

Orthobiologic methods refer to injecting biological substances into the body to quickly heal knee injuries. With the advancement of regenerative medicine, these treatments have become more popular than ever. 

At CELLAXYS, our experienced doctors perform two types of orthobiologic treatments to eliminate your knee pain: cell-based therapies and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. Both methods are outpatient procedures, meaning you can go home right after.

Depending on the cause of your knee injury, the doctor will opt for any of the two orthobiologic methods:

Cell-Based Therapies

Cell-based or stem cell therapy targets your natural knee tissues and replaces the damaged ones with healthier ones. There are two types of cell-based therapies:

  • Minimally Manipulated Adipose Tissue transplant (MMAT): MMAT therapy locates the damaged adipose tissues (body fats that store nutrients) and replaces them with healthy tissues.
  • Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMAC) – The BMAC therapy collects the affected bone marrow and transplants it with another new bone marrow.

During cell-based therapies, you will be unconscious because of anesthesia. The procedure will last around 1.5 to 2 hours. 

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)

Platelets are formed in the bone marrow and stop the bleeding from our body. Platelet-rich plasma, or PRP therapy, focuses on the knee tissues and boosts their growth. When the platelets are activated, they perform the following functions:

  • Tissue growth stimulation
  • Send chemical signals to heal blood cells
  • Create fibrin, a healing web inside our body

PPR takes around 45 minutes to complete. When the damaged tissues are replaced with healthier ones, you will experience quick recovery without the risk of future internal injury and pain.

Dr. Matthew HC Otten

Director of Regenerative Orthopedic and Sports Medicine
Fellowship-trained & Board Certified in Sports medicine
Director Angiography at Harvard Clinical Research Institute
Michigan State University Alumni


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