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Knee replacement surgery, also called arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to resurface a damaged knee that is painful or no longer stable. Similar to hip surgery, there are alternative approaches that can be taken to help with the pain and joint stiffness. Discuss with your doctor different options that may help to reduce the pain and decide on what options and course of therapy is right for you.
Knee Replacement Alternatives
Before proceeding with surgery you may determine that one of the following alternatives to knee replacement surgery may be helpful:
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- Pain medication such as Ibuprofen or aspirin to help with the inflammation in the joint
- Physical therapy under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist along with your doctors direction will help with mobility of the joint
- Use of an aid such as a cane or walker may become necessary to move around to allow reduction of the swelling and relieve stress on the joint.
- Steroid injection at the site to help pain and reduce the inflammation
- Losing weight for overweight patients will help to reduce the pressure and stress on the joint.
When conventional approaches like physical therapy do not work or they are not enough to reduce the pain in the joint, hip resurfacing or hip replacement (also known as hip arthroplasty) is an option.
The knee joint is the largest joint in the body and sometimes simply referred to as a hinge joint similar to the elbow where motion occurs in only one direction. The knee joint, however, consists of a complex system of bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage and can handle more complex movements having a rotational component.
The knee joint consists of three bones. The lower part of the femur (or the thigh bone), the larger of the two bones in the lower leg called the tibia or shinbone, and the patella (the bone that floats in front of the knee more commonly known as the kneecap).
The ends of each of the bones involved in the knee joint along with the back side of the patella are covered with a layer of articular cartilage; a smooth substance that protects the surface of the bones and allows the bones to move or glide in more easily. Over time, normal wear and tear on the cartilage, traumatic injury, or possibly disease can lead to loss or damage of the cartilage coating. The Loss of cartilage and the continued bone on bone contact is the process of osteoarthritis.