How to Delay or Avoid Your Knee Replacement Surgery

    

Total knee replacement (TKR) surgery has become more popular as the population ages and because of advances in medical technology. However, before you commit to this major surgical procedure, consider alternatives and ways to delay or avoid the surgery all together.

Total Knee Replacement

Total knee replacement is often recommended for patients who have severe knee pain that limits your normal daily activities and does not go away even when resting. Your doctor may have suggested surgery for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or injury. If you are having trouble walking for long periods of time, climbing stairs, or cannot participate in the normal activities you usually do, you may be considering a knee replacement.

A TKR does come with an extended recovery time and requires extensive physical therapy.  Physical therapy normally starts shortly after the surgery and continues until an acceptable degree of flexibility and range of motion has been attained. You should be able to resume some of your normal daily activities within six weeks and should be able to drive within 3-6 weeks. Full recovery, however, can take up to six months, but it is not uncommon to have some swelling for up to one year. Our article Preparing for Recovery from Knee Replacement Surgery offers helpful tips to prepare for your recovery after a TKR surgery.

If the timing is not right for you or you want to put off knee surgery for as long as you can, there are some things you can do to delay, or even possibly avoid having the procedure. The extent that this can be delayed will depend on several factors, including the extent of the damage and your commitment to non-surgical options.

Weight Loss

Diet and exercise are options to delay surgery on your knee(s). For every excess pound of body weight, your knees receive four pounds of pressure. Just twenty pounds of excess weight puts up to eighty pounds of pressure on your knees. Over time, this constant pressure results in the breakdown of cartilage that cushions your knees and results in discomfort and pain. If you are in pain now, it may be difficult to begin an exercise program, so start by eating a healthy diet. Simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.  

Supplements

There is evidence that points to taking supplements as a way to improve your joint health.  Glucosamine Sulfate and Chondroitin have been shown to relieve pain and can slow the progression of arthritis. These supplements are readily available in drug, health, and grocery stores. You can also add over the counter anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen as needed.

Cortisone

Cortisone or Corticosteroid injections are given when over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication is no longer working. The steroids have an anti-inflammatory effect but do not work for all patients. For those who experience relief, it gives them an opportunity to work on lifestyle changes such as weight loss and exercise. It is usually performed under a local anesthetic as an outpatient treatment or sometimes in a doctor's office.  

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy treatment programs that target your knees will help to relieve pain, improve range of motion, and strengthen your muscles. A trained therapist will develop a plan consisting of movements and exercises and will monitor your progress. Sometimes, if caught early enough, you may be able to postpone your surgery indefinitely.

Assistive Mobility Devices

Braces are an important option for delaying or avoiding total knee replacement surgery. Braces and knee supports strengthen your knee by improving the alignment and increasing overall stability. This in turn, relieves pain and can help minimize or halt progressive damage to your joint. There are a variety of knee braces available for a range of symptoms including OA knee braces that will take pressure off of the affected area. 

Knee Brace Experts

At Elite Medical Supply, we are experts in knee braces and supports. Our staff can help you find the brace that is right for you and will closely coordinate with your healthcare provider to provide you with the right brace or pain management solution. We'll even do all the paperwork for you. We make it fast and easy for you to get started with your brace. Contact us today to get started!