Question: I recently saw my family doctor for knee pain that I’ve been having for several months. X-rays showed I have arthritis, and I was told I might need a knee replacement. Being that I’m 53 years old, I’m concerned I’m too young for a knee replacement. What are my options?
ASK A DOCTOR: Are you protected? Sun can burn your eyes
Answer: There are many things we can try to treat knee arthritis before a knee replacement becomes necessary.
Anti-inflammatory medications, such as Aleve and ibuprofen, are good over-the-counter options for arthritis.
It is important to stay fit and active for several reasons — keeping your weight down will decrease the amount of stress you put on your knees. It will also strengthen the surrounding muscles and improve range of motion about the knee. I recommend low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, stationary bikes/cycling and elliptical machines.
Anti-inflammatory injections into the knee joint are a great option for patients who experience moderate knee pain on a daily basis and want to avoid surgery. Synvisc injections can offer six to 12 months of relief for up to 75 percent of patients with mild to moderate knee arthritis. They are a series of injections that are given weekly for three weeks. Cortisone injections can be given every three months, and may offer temporary relief from moderate to even severe arthritis.
Determining when to proceed with knee replacement surgery can be a difficult decision to make. When I first see a patient with knee arthritis, I will frequently recommend some type of non-operative treatment if they have not already tried one of the modalities listed above.