When knee arthritis significantly degenerates the knee, pain and limitations might mean a knee replacement is necessary. Before having a knee replacement, there are several injectable treatments that can reduce pain and potentially delay surgery.
Steroid injections are typically reserved for knee arthritis that is not well-controlled through exercise and anti-inflammatory pain medications. Sometimes a knee replacement is delayed because arthritis has not progressed enough to warrant the procedure or it is better to wait until the patient is older. Injectable steroids should be used as little as possible to minimize the chance of bone necrosis or bone demineralization, which could further complicate a future knee replacement. Steroids usually begin working within a couple of days and can provide months of relief and increased mobility.
Hyaluronic acid injections may be the next step if steroid injections are not effective enough or in an attempt to reduce the use of steroid injections. The material injected into the joint is derived from rooster combs. You may need multiple treatments over several weeks before you notice improvement. Hyaluronic acid injections have several benefits over steroid injections since the material adds lubrication to the knee. When the knee is better lubricated, there is less friction from the damaged joint, thereby reducing pain and inflammation.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) uses the body's platelets to help decrease pain and inflammation. During the procedure, blood is taken and processed to separate the platelets from other blood components. The platelets are injected back into the affected joint. PRP is also believed to have some healing properties, especially in areas of the knee where tissue does not regenerate as easily, such as cartilage and soft tissues. One of the main benefits of PRP is using the patient's own platelets reduces the chances of adverse reactions to the procedure.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is a newer treatment option that may prevent or delay a knee replacement. The stem cells can be harvested from the patient's own bone marrow. Most of the research in using stem cell therapy has been done in people with osteoarthritis (OA). In the case of OA, injecting stem cells may help reverse some effects of the disease, such as rebuilding lost cartilage. Stem cells are also believed to reduce inflammation and slow the progression of OA. Much like PRP, the stem cells are taken from the patient, which prevents the body from rejecting the stem cells, and also reduces complications.
Degenerative joint diseases can mean a knee replacement is needed in the future. Fortunately, there are several treatment options that can potentially delay or prevent a major surgery. For more information, contact a knee pain stem cell treatment center.