Joint replacement should never be considered first as a treatment for joint pain before all of the alternatives have been adequately explored. There are numerous joint replacement alternatives which can alleviate pain and other symptoms. In many cases, these alternatives can even remedy the cause of joint pain. Here, we will discuss some of the alternatives.
Exercise, Nutrition, & Weight Loss
Diet and exercise are often the optimal approaches to many adverse medical conditions. In the case of skeletal issues, losing weight can often reduce the burden on joints and other supportive structures. Frequently, nutritional problems can trigger joint pain and can be remedied through a change in one’s eating habits. It is often the case that patients who are overweight, are also experiencing inflammation which can exacerbate pain felt in the joints and elsewhere.
Hyaluronic Acid Injections
Treatment with hyaluronic acid is another good alternative to replacing a knee. In cases where cartridge is worn or ruptured, hyaluronic acid can be injected to provide the missing lubrication that the joint needs to function properly and without pain. Patients who are allergic to eggs or poultry are not good candidates for hyaluronic acid injections.
A physical therapist can work with the patient to design a personalized regimen of stretches and exercises that will enable the patient to reduce or eliminate joint pain in some cases. When muscles or ligaments have shortened due to inactivity, injury, or age; physical therapy can offer a solution. In cases where weight loss and nutritional changes are called for, physical therapy can be an excellent way for patients to optimize their fitness routine.
Cortizone & Pain Relievers
With minor ongoing joint pain, sometimes over the counter pain relievers can be a good option. Patients are encouraged to consult a doctor first, as some pain relievers can exacerbate certain heart conditions.
For minor to moderate ongoing joint pain and discomfort, cortizone shots are often considered the treatment of choice. Cortizone is a steroid which is injected into the affected site. It acts similarly to hormones naturally produced by the body which may be missing or in low supply. These injections typically last for a few days to a period of several weeks. Patients will return for additional injections as needed.
This novel approach utilizes irritants such as dextrose to stimulate a regenerative response from the body. The solution is injected into the tendon or ligament. Typically, the body will respond by increasing blood flow to the area.
Stem Cell Treatment
This revolutionary treatment uses the patient’s own stem cells, extracted from the bone marrow, to initiate a powerful healing response. Success rates with stem cell regenerative therapy are exceedingly high and eliminate virtually all of the negative effects of surgery. This is a very popular joint replacement alternative.