by Sportsdoc Raj
Knee replacement surgery is becoming a more common, with osteoarthritis becoming more prevalent in younger patients. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery claims that there will be a 670% increase in the total number of knee replacements by 2030. While there have been numerous advances in the field of knee replacement surgery, this is still considered a major operation. Here are some steps that you can take to delay the need for this surgery:
1. Lose Excess Weight
The knee joints bear a significant amount of pressure from supporting our body weight. Each pound of excess weight can exert up to four pounds of pressure on the knee, meaning a person who is 10 pounds overweight exerts 40 pounds of excess pressure on his knees with every step he takes. The damage builds over time, leading to degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis. Compliance to a diet and exercise plan may be the simplest way to avoid surgery later on.
2. Strengthen Your Joints
You can increase the stability of your knees by strengthening the muscles that support the joints. The quadriceps and hamstring muscles are of particular importance, as they absorb the shock and weight-bearing loads. Building joint strength is done through exercises such as resistance training (squats and lunges), swimming, cycling and other activities. Building strong leg muscles has been correlated with less risk of joint replacement surgery.
Physical therapy can help strengthen one’s knees and take pressure off the arthritic joint.
3. Wear a Brace
Some studies have shown that degenerative damage to the knee can be avoided by regularly wearing support. Braces and knee supports improve the alignment and stability of the knee joint, relieving pain and minimizing progressive damage.
The top braces to wear are called offloaders and shift pressure to the part of the knee joint that has less arthritis to relieve pain.
4. Hyaluronic Acid Injection
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally-occurring lubricant in the joints. It also regulates inflammation and provides a cushion between the knee cartilages. Hyaluronic acid injection has been shown to decrease pain and improve knee function in some people. It has also delayed the need for knee surgery in some patients.
One novel treatment that has gained popularity because of its use by athletes such as Tiger Woods and Rafael Nadal is the injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP). PRP contains a greater concentration of platelets and growth factors than normal blood. The blood for PRP is drawn from the patient and run through processes that elevate the platelet concentration. The preparation is later injected to the site of injury to speed up healing. This is a relatively new treatment, and may require further studies validating its effectiveness.
Stem Cell injections with amniotic derived stem cell material or bone marrow derived stem cells are being shown to help considerably with degenerative arthritis.