Osteoarthritis is the leading form of knee pain where the cartilage in the joint starts to wear off because of age or an old injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in the US, between the years 2013 to 2015, close to 54.4 million or 22.7% adults were diagnosed with arthritis. The organization predicts that by the year 2040, 78 million or 26% of the adults are likely to have the condition. For this reason, researchers are coming up with new knee pain treatments to help the affected.
If you have the disease, you’re probably noticing the lost work days and other downsides that result from difficulty in movement. Osteoarthritis can make things extremely difficult and unpleasant, especially if you are constantly on the go or wanting to feel comfortable while travelling. To date, Doctors admit they have no cure for the knee pain and the solutions they offer are merely intended to lower the discomfort and provide some amount of normalcy in their patients’ lives.
However, using too many pain medications may not only result in long-term side effects, but you might end up causing further damage to the affected joint in the absence of pain. Aside from pain medicines, your doctors may have recommended physical therapy, exercise, and other natural remedies. As a last resort, they may have suggested knee replacement surgery.
But, before you take that major decision, take a look at the newest therapies available today. One of these knee pain treatments could be effective in helping you avoid surgery for now.
1. Hyaluronic Acid Injections
Hyaluronic acid or Hyaluronate acid as it is also called is a substance that your body produces naturally. As the Mayo Clinic reports, you can opt for these injections in the knee joints to ease movement and lower the pain. That’s because Hyaluronic acid works to replace the eroded synovial fluids that provide lubrication to the joints and prevent the ends of the bones from rubbing against each other. Although this knee pain treatment is absolutely safe to use, your doctor might run some tests on you to ensure that you’re not likely to have any allergic reactions and are a good candidate for the procedure.
2. Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate
Your bone marrow creates mesenchymal stem cells that promote the growth of cartilage and other healing elements in the body. These cells are also effective in lowering inflammation levels. To help you with knee pain, doctors harvest marrow from your bones and isolate the mesenchymal stem cells for reinjection inside the knee. In this way, they hope to restore the cartilage and help in pain relief. Although the procedure has received approval by the FDA, the National Center for Biotechnical Information suggests that further research is needed before this knee pain treatment can be used more extensively.
3. Maci or Autologous Cultured Chondrocytes
Chondrocytes are another form of cells that your body produces naturally. These cells form the building blocks of which cartilage is created. Doctors have been experimenting with a treatment course that involves harvesting some of the cartilage cells from the patient’s knee and then culturing them in the lab to grow more cells. Later, they place these cells onto the framework that is inserted into the knee joint to assist in the regeneration of cartilage. Over time, the frame is absorbed into the body. The FDA has approved the protocol under the name, Maci.
4. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Knee Injections
While all three of the foregoing knee pain treatments use natural compounds to help you with the pain and inflammation, you might want to consider PRP therapy instead. That’s because, the PRP serum, processed from your blood contains both mesenchymal stem cells and chondrocytes that can effectively assist in the healing process and reduce inflammation. The serum also contains other growth factors that can replace the worn lubricating agents in the knee joint. In recent times, doctors have also been experimenting with a combination of PRP and Hyaluronic acid injections for a dual-effect treatment protocol that works with better results.
Aside from these four options that use natural products and autologous elements to heal the causes of osteoarthritis, specialists in knee pain may suggest injections that work to numb the nerves that cause you pain. Depending on the severity of your arthritis, your doctor may recommend these knee pain treatments.
5. Water-Cooled Radiofrequency Ablation
The Radiofrequency ablation is a procedure where the technician uses a heated needle to burn the nerves that cause pain. The heat in the needles is produced by a high frequency electrical current. The Water-Cooled Radiofrequency ablation takes it a step further by passing water through the tip of the needle so that its temperature is lowered and doctors can burn a larger area. This knee pain solution is still in the experimental stages and clinical trials are in progress to study the efficacy further. In coming times, the procedure could become more readily available.
6. Botox Injections
Botox injections have been used by medical practitioners for a while now to help patients with various medical and cosmetic problems. The basic principle behind Botox is that it numbs nerve signals from reaching the muscles and causing spasms and pain. For this reason, doctors are now using the injections as a knee pain treatment to ease the discomfort and mobility. Again, this option is in the experimental stages and it may be a while before it is offered to patients.
In the coming years, researchers may develop various treatments to help you with knee pain that actually work to heal and reverse the causes in place of simply masking the pain and lowering inflammation. Before opting for knee replacement surgery, you may want to explore the other available solutions as well.