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How you can avoid knee replacement surgery

Painful joints are no joke, and the worse they get, the harder it is to ignore the idea that you might need surgery. More than 10% of people 60 and older in the United States have osteoarthritis. This condition causes knee pain because cartilage that is supposed to cushion the joint is gone.

Sponsored Story By Shelbourne Knee Center

Painful joints are no joke, and the worse they get, the harder it is to ignore the idea that you might need surgery.

You’re not alone in your pain, as more than 10% of people 60 and older in the United States have osteoarthritis, according to research in Clinics in Geriatric Medicine. This condition causes knee pain because cartilage that is supposed to cushion the joint is gone.

Even then, certain people are at higher risk for developing the condition. For example, being overweight puts stress on your knees, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

“When you walk across level ground, the force on your knees is the equivalent of 1½ times your body weight,” Harvard Health says.

That pressure increases when walking up or down stairs or squatting to tie a shoe or pick up something. Unfortunately, that means that active people or people with jobs that require bending and squatting have a high risk for osteoarthritis.

Traditional treatment

The most common orthopedic procedure in the country — and the traditional treatment for osteoarthritis — is total knee arthroplasty, which involves replacing the knee. With the aging population and record number of overweight people, demand is going to increase by as much as 143% by 2050, according to Shelbourne Knee Center.

Of course, surgery is not without risks. Total knee arthroplasty often requires general anesthesia or an epidural. The surgeon makes a 4 to 10-inch incision and cuts away damaged bone and cartilage, replacing them with metal or plastic components to create a synthetic joint. Potential complications include nerve damage, wound infection, or blood clots, as well as scar tissue developing that interferes with the joint.

You’ll likely need help with daily activities for several days or weeks, and will do physical therapy as you recover.

Because of the expense, inconvenience, discomfort, and possible complications, surgery often becomes a last resort for people with severe pain or stiffness when standing, climbing stairs, or even resting. Unfortunately, that means otherwise healthy, active people are suffering.

The solution

Shelbourne Knee Center has developed an innovative non-surgical treatment known as The Knee Rehabilitation Program for Osteoarthritis.

Led by orthopedic surgeon Rodney Benner, the program is based on the practice’s data that shows the importance of full range of motion in achieving good long-term outcomes. Unlike other rehab programs where patients are sent to therapy after surgery, the Knee Rehabilitation Program for Osteoarthritis focuses on range of motion first.

“Physical therapy needs to be done in a specific order,” Benner says. “Once the patient’s range of motion has been maximized, we move on to activities to improve overall function.”

That includes working on extension without bending or strengthening exercises. Then, when range of motion has been maximized, the patient works on bending, later following by strengthening. With guidance from a Shelbourne Knee Center physical therapist or athletic trainer, patients complete the program at home.

The results speak for themselves. One study showed that less than a quarter of patients in a study done by the rehab program ended up needing surgery. Four to six weeks of treatment reduced their pain and stiffness, allowing them to return to their normal activities.

“This non-operative treatment approach is a good alternative for patients with knee osteoarthritis,” Benner says.

For patients who still needed surgery, the program helped them make improvements that led to a better surgical outcome and a faster, easier recovery.

For more information about the Knee Rehabilitation Program for Osteoarthritis at Shelbourne Knee Center, call 888-FIX-KNEE or visit fixknee.com.