Knee Replacement: How and Why to Avoid It

Days Vs. Months Recovery Time

Patients who receive a Regenexx treatment for knee pain can return to normal activities just 1-2 days post-treatment, which is a fraction of knee replacement surgery recovery time.

We created the chart above from Regenexx experience and from recovery time data provided in the articles used to create this blog. Knee surgery recovery times vary from person to person. Most people are able to return to their everyday activities in about 6 weeks after knee surgery. It may take 6 months to a year before a person can return to strenuous activities and certain sports (and some high-impact activities, such as jogging or playing basketball, may be discouraged altogether).

Common Knee Injuries

The knee is a complex joint: bones, tendons, ligaments, and meniscal cartilage all come together and attach to at least one part of the joint to form one delicate collaboration (2). Since the knee joint is comprised of so many different tissues, it is easy for something to be injured. The most common knee injuries are sprains, fractures, tears in the meniscus cartilage, and osteoarthritis (1).

Sprain

A sprain occurs when a ligament of the knee, a tissue that connects the upper and lower leg bones, is stretched too far or tears (4). This type of injury, then, usually occurs during movement; one might feel a “pop” and then the knee may feel very unstable and painful (4).

Fracture

A fracture occurs when the knee undergoes some blunt trauma. A hard fall, a large and quickly moving object, a car crash, etc., may cause the knee to bones to hit against a hard surface and crack (3).

Meniscus Tear

The meniscus is a thick cartilage that is wedged in between bones of the knee. This tissue can be torn when the knee is quickly or forcibly rotated, especially when one is putting their full weight on the knee (3).

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease; the bones (of the knee in this case) gradually become weaker and more porous as one ages (3). This type of knee injury is most common in adults 45-plus.

Knee Replacement Overview

Any of the injuries listed above, if causing severe enough detriments to the knee’s function, would likely be enough for a surgeon to suggest knee replacement surgery as a treatment option. The method of knee replacement surgery is to remove only the injured or damaged parts of the knee and replace them with plastic and metal devices designed to work in place of the damaged part of the knee (5). Sometimes a patient will only need a certain part of the knee to be replaced, but other times, a patient will need a full knee replacement.

Complications of Knee Surgery

So, if a patient has a knee injury that needs treatment, why would they want to avoid surgery?

Surgery is an extremely invasive process, especially knee surgery, given the complex nature of the joint: a surgeon might stick metal rods into the bones, shave and reshape the bones, or resurface the entire knee (5). The metal or plastic pieces that replace parts of the knee are a difficult change to adjust to for many knee surgery patients. The pieces might be uncomfortable, and can gradually loosen or wear down over time (5). Surgery also comes with a variety of concerning risks: blood clotting, nerve damage, or infection (5).

Recovery and Patient Dissatisfaction With Knee Surgery

One of the biggest drawbacks of knee replacement surgery, and likely one of the main factors that turns away busy, active people from it is the long, long waiting period of recovery time. A knee replacement surgery patient needs several weeks of recovery just to be able to walk normally again (5). During this whole time, they will need help with simple daily tasks such as cleaning and cooking. After those several weeks of getting back to normal, it can take six months to a year for the patient to undergo full recovery (7).

Many patients are not satisfied with their results of knee replacement surgery, too. According to a UK study on total knee replacement subjects, a great number of patients still experience pain and decreased knee function post-surgery (6). About 73% were pleased with their pain relief, but only about 50% reported being able to perform daily leisure activities well (6).

Regenexx BMC and PRP

So is it possible to avoid knee surgery and still receive treatment for a damaged knee? Regenerative care options are an alternative to surgery. Regenexx offers the Regenexx-SD bone marrow replacement procedure and the Regenexx SCP (Super Concentrated Plasma) Platelet-Rich Plasma procedure (8). Both treatment procedures use the body’s own natural healing agents, extracted from the patient and re-injected into the affected area using precise imaging guidance (8). The goal of Regenexx’s procedures is to reduce pain, and improve overall function or quality of the afflicted area, and improve quality of life for the patient (8). Either the bone marrow procedure or platelet rich plasma procedure could be an option for treating a damaged knee, depending on what the problem is for a specific patient. A Regenexx Physician would determine which procedure is right for you.

Regenexx Patient Outcomes Knee

Regenexx offers outcome data for patients who received a Regenexx procedure for knee problems including osteoarthritis, ACL tear, and a meniscus injury (9). The data is separated by joint pain, joint function, and overall joint improvement, and according to the overall joint improvement graph, Regenexx patients feel that their knee is already 37% improved overall after only one month post-procedure (9). Compared to the recovery timeline graph below, that’s a much shorter amount of time than a knee replacement. See Regenexx Patient Outcomes Data here.

If you’re having persistent knee pain and want to avoid surgery, don’t just wait out the pain. To find out if you’re a Regenexx candidate–Tap the “TALK TO AN EXPERT” BUTTON below.

SOURCES:

  1. https://centenoschultz.com/how-to-avoid-knee-replacement/
  2. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/common-knee-injuries/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/knee-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20350849
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/knee-sprain-a-to-z
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/knee-replacement/about/pac-20385276
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0968016007000713?via%3Dihub#bib5
  7. https://www.arthritis-health.com/surgery/knee-surgery/knee-replacement-recovery-timeline
  8. https://regenexxpittsburgh.com/regenexx-knee/
  9. https://regenexxpittsburgh.com/patient-outcome-data/

 

About The Author
Dr. Jesse Sally

Dr. Jesse Sally

Dr. Jesse Sally

Dr. Jesse Sally

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Knee

Regenexx® Procedures are non-surgical injection treatments that are intended to help reduce pain and improve function for those who are suffering from pain due to common injuries, arthritis, and overuse conditions. View Details About Knee Treatments >

Commonly Treated Conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Meniscus Tears
  • Patellofemoral
  • Syndrome/Chondomalacia
  • ACL Tears + PCL, LCL & MCL Tears & Sprains
  • Patellar Tendonitis
  • Pes anersine bursitis
  • Baker’s cyst
  • Instability
  • Hamstrings Tendinopathy & Biceps Femoris Insertional Tendinopathy

Lower Spine

Regenexx® Procedures are non-surgical injection treatments that are intended to help reduce pain and improve function for those who are suffering from pain due to common injuries, arthritis, and overuse conditions. View Details About Spine Treatments >

Commonly Treated Conditions:

  • Lumbar Facet Injury
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Herniated or Bulging Disc
  • Radiculopathy (pinched nerve)
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Many More Disc and Low Back Issues

Foot & Ankle

Regenexx® Procedures are non-surgical injection treatments that are intended to help reduce pain and improve function for those who are suffering from pain due to common injuries, arthritis, and overuse conditions. View Details About Foot & Ankle Treatments >

Commonly Treated Conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Ankle Instability
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Peroneal tendon tear or split
  • Ligament sprain or tear
  • Sub-talar arthritis or instability
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome
  • Bunions

Cervical Spine

Regenexx® Procedures are non-surgical injection treatments that are intended to help reduce pain and improve function for those who are suffering from pain due to common injuries, arthritis, and overuse conditions. View Details About Spine Treatments >

Commonly Treated Conditions:

  • Cervical Instability
  • Cervical Facet Injury
  • Neck, Back or Rib Instability
  • Many More Disc and Cervical Issues Causing Pain

Shoulder

Regenexx® Procedures are non-surgical injection treatments that are intended to help reduce pain and improve function for those who are suffering from pain due to common injuries, arthritis, and overuse conditions. View Details About Shoulder Treatments >

Commonly Treated Conditions:

  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Arthritis of the shoulder joint
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Labral tears or degeneration
  • Rotator cuff tendonitis & tendonosis
  • AC Joint Separation
  • Recurrent shoulder dislocations

Elbow

Regenexx® Procedures are non-surgical injection treatments that are intended to help reduce pain and improve function for those who are suffering from pain due to common injuries, arthritis, and overuse conditions. View Details About Elbow Treatments >

Commonly Treated Conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Instability
  • Tennis Elbow or Golfer’s Elbow
  • Nerve entrapment (ulnar nerve)

Hip

Regenexx® Procedures are non-surgical injection treatments that are intended to help reduce pain and improve function for those who are suffering from pain due to common injuries, arthritis, and overuse conditions. View Details About Hip Treatments >

Commonly Treated Conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Osteonecrosis
  • Bursitis
  • Tendinopathy
  • Labral / Labrum Tear

Hand & Wrist

Regenexx® Procedures are non-surgical injection treatments that are intended to help reduce pain and improve function for those who are suffering from pain due to common injuries, arthritis, and overuse conditions.

View Details About Hand & Wrist Treatments >

Commonly Treated Conditions:

  • Hand Arthritis
  • Basal Joint Arthritis or CMC / Carpometacarpal
  • Arthritis
  • Instability
  • TFCC Tear
  • Carpal Tunnel SyndromeTrigger Finger