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Alternatives to Joint Replacement Surgery

physical therapy for joint pain

Pain-Reducing Methods to Try Before Undergoing a Surgical Procedure

If you’re suffering from intense pain or discomfort in your knees, hips, or other joints, then you’re probably wondering what the quickest avenue is for finding relief. Although joint replacement surgery has proven to be highly effective in these matters, it’s rarely the first option for treatment. Our team at Mid-America Orthopedics Kansas City has seen many patients over the years to address joint pain, and more often than not, we’re able to put them on a path to recovery that doesn’t involve surgery. To give you a better idea of how our specialized physicians address joint pain, here are some of the most common treatment plans that are suggested to help bring relief.

Lose Weight and Exercise

There are several reasons why maintaining an ideal weight is in your best interest. One of the biggest ones is that it helps keep undo pressure off your joints. Most people dealing with joint pain don’t realize that every 10 pounds of extra weight they carry is an additional 30 pounds of pressure they’re putting on their knees. This is why losing weight via regular low-impact exercise is typically the first recommendation for patients dealing with joint pain, especially if that pain is located in the knees. Exercising while suffering from joint pain can be difficult, which is why you’ll want to stick with activities that won’t elevate your pain levels. To start off, you can go for walks, do yoga or tai chi, or swim laps in the pool. Once you reach a healthy weight and your pain levels go down, you can graduate to more demanding exercises such as running, tennis, or strength training.

Physical Therapy

Sometimes physical therapy (PT) is required to properly address the root cause of your joint pain and expedite feelings of relief. It’s important to note that exercise and physical therapy are not the same thing, although they are both intended to promote joint health and increased mobility. When working with a physical therapist, their goal will be to strengthen the key muscles that are affecting the specific joint in which your pain is originating. They will make sure you’re utilizing proper techniques with a possible combination of heat and ice therapies to reduce joint inflammation. The hands-on approach received at a physical therapy clinic has proven to be highly successful in increasing blood flow in affected joints while also reducing pain.

Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medications

In addition to weight loss and PT, using over-the-counter (OTC) medications have also proven to help patients manage their joint pain levels. The most common OTC options include acetaminophen (Tylenol), topical and oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), and topical creams that contain capsaicin. In the event that OTC medications aren’t effective in reducing pain levels, your doctor may prescribe drugs such as Percocet, oxycontin, Tramadol, or another opioid; however, it’s important to note that this is not a long-term solution.

Injections

Depending on the severity and location of your joint pain, your physician may suggest one of two types of injections to the affected area. The first type of injection is called a corticosteroid injection, which reduces pain and inflammation to the area and should provide relief for several weeks. The second type of injection is a hyaluronic acid injection, which is intended to lubricate the knee joint and reduce inflammation and pain; it should help improve mobility on a short-term basis. Like OTCs and prescription medications, injections are not long-term solutions and will be administered at the discretion of your physician.

Osteotomy

In some patients that are experiencing knee pain, an osteotomy may be the best course of action to relieve pressure on the knee joint. This minimally-invasive procedure literally means “cutting of the bone” and is typically used for those in the early stages of osteoarthritis. Either the tibia or femur will be cut and then reshaped to relieve pressure on the knee joint, which should significantly improve the overall function of the joint and reduce pain.

Diagnosing and Treating Your Joint Pain

If you are experiencing joint pain that you’re unable to treat on your own, it may be time to have a physician diagnose the problem area. The team at Mid-America Orthopedics Kansas City has decades of combined experience treating patients suffering with joint pain in their hips, elbows, and knees. In the event that none of the aforementioned treatment methods work, you can rest assured that we have some of the best orthopedic surgeons in the Kansas City area.

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