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How Can Knee Pain Be Stopped? Treatments That Work

Have knee pain? It’s common. About 18 percent of adults report they’ve had knee pain over the past month.

Fortunately, there are several pain-relief treatments you can try. Depending on the reasons for our knee pain, your treatment may include:

  • Physical therapy. This therapy focuses on movements that help you recover your strength and range of motion.
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs or other medications. They may be taken by mouth or applied to the skin, depending on clinician recommendation and your preferences.
  • Injections that reduce inflammation, lubricate the knee and reduce pain.
  • Arthrocentesis. Your clinician will use a syringe to remove fluid from the knee.
  • Acupuncture or dry needling. Small needles are inserted in specific locations in the skin to affect the flow of pain signals along your nerves. These treatments are part of integrative medicine.

If you have knee pain that doesn’t go away after these treatments, visit with your health care clinician. You may be referred to an orthopedic specialist for an assessment.


Treating Chronic Knee Pain

Your specialist may recommend a surgical knee replacement. These procedures include partial or total knee replacement (TKR). They may be appropriate if your pain is affecting your daily lifestyle.

  • A partial knee replacement replaces only one part of a damaged knee. A surgeon might replace the inside or outside parts of the knee or the kneecap.
  • A total knee replacement is more extensive. All the weight-bearing surfaces are replaced. TKR has become common. About 700,000 procedures are done each year in the U.S.

A common reason people have knee replacement surgery is pain caused by osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage in your joints. Cartilage is the tough, flexible tissue that covers the ends of the bones in your joints. When the cartilage wears down, bones can rub together. This rubbing can cause chronic pain.

If you’re considering partial or total knee replacement, here are some of the key benefits.

Both procedures allow patients to return to many of the activities they enjoyed before the knee pain started.

Partial Knee Replacement

  • Recovery tends to be quicker.
  • There may be less pain related to the surgery.
  • Less blood loss.
    • There are specific requirements to be eligible for this procedure.

Total Knee Replacement

  • Generally considered to be more effective for pain management.
  • Tends to be a longer-lasting remedy. After a partial knee replacement, additional surgery may be needed sooner than after TKR.

Knee implants last more than 20 years 90% of the time. After that, a revision knee replacement, or restoration, may need to be done to repair wear to the joint, but this is only done in about 10% of replacements.

Successful knee replacements start before patients and surgeons enter the operating room.


Maximizing Knee Replacement Success

The best results occur when patients are in good health, have positive attitudes toward the procedure and realistic expectations about the work needed for them to recover after the surgery.

Before the procedure, we’ll ask patients to:

  • Build strength in the muscles around the knee. This step will likely be one of the non-surgical treatments you’ll want to try before surgery. Your clinician can guide you on the exercises that will help.
  • Learn about and commit to the physical therapy after the surgery that will be essential to success.
  • Lose weight to take pressure off the joint while it heals. Maintaining a healthy weight after the procedure will help ensure long-term success.
  • Plan how to get around using a cane or walker for a few weeks after surgery. You may want to temporarily rearrange furniture to make getting around easier. Take extra care on stairs. If your bedroom is upstairs, consider setting up short-term sleeping arrangements on the main level until you feel confident on the stairs.
  • Quit smoking. (Skipping this step will dramatically slow your healing process.)

After a knee replacement, it will take some time to return to “normal.” The amount of time will vary depending on the extent of your knee problems and the procedure you have. Your surgeon can give you a good estimate of the recovery time and can answer questions you have about ways you can improve your chances for recovery success.

To take your next step toward knee pain relief, see your health care clinician. Discuss the treatments that might work for you and if orthopedic care is right for you.

If you need a doctor, you can find a physician online now.

If you’d like to see more interesting health information, visit the Aurora Health Care Facebook page!

Meet the Author

Paul A. Sauer, MD is an orthopedic surgeon at the Aurora Health Center in Burlington.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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