Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Knee Pain: A Comprehensive Guide to Minimally Invasive Techniques

If you’re experiencing persistent knee pain, it can significantly impact your mobility required for regular activities. Knee pain affects millions worldwide, with many opting for immediate knee replacement surgery as a solution.

However, numerous effective non-surgical treatment options are available to alleviate knee pain. The knee joint is a complex and powerful joint required to perform various functions. When arthritis affects the joints, it can cause the cartilage to wear down, which leads to friction between the bones.

While knee surgery can be highly effective, alternative minimally invasive techniques can help relieve pain and restore mobility. Scroll down to discover the different non-surgical options for a knee injury.

Common Causes of Knee Pain

The knees are the largest and most complex joint. It helps in every movement step and bears your weight throughout your life. It makes the joints prone to wear and tear compared to other joints. Here are some common causes of knee pain.

  • Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of joints that occurs due to the wear and tear of the cartilage. The dull ache, when left unchecked, can develop and progress into excruciating pain. Research suggests that this condition is diagnosed in people over 50 years old. 

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

It is an auto-immune condition that influences the immune system to harm multiple joints simultaneously, resulting in severe inflammation and pain in the knee joints. 

  • Bursitis

The most common cause of knee pain is bursitis, caused due to inflammation of the bursa (Fluid-filled sacs) located at the front of the knee joints. You will experience stiffness and pain in your knee joint due to sudden injury or natural degeneration.

  • Tendonitis

Tendonitis or Patellar tendonitis is the inflammatory condition of the tendon due to the overuse of knee joints. When left untreated, the tears in tendons are damaged further with repetitive stress on the joints.

  • Meniscus Tears

The meniscus is a protective cartilage that cushions between the thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) to prevent direct contact between the joints. However, when this cartilage becomes torn or displaced, it can lead to discomfort and pain during joint movement.

  • Ligament Sprains

Sprains occur when ligaments are torn or stretched too far, causing tenderness and swelling and resulting in knee pain. The knee joint has four ligaments: the anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate, lateral collateral, and medial collateral ligaments.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Here, we have listed the most popular and proactive non-surgical treatment options that act as your first defence against knee pain. These treatment options will also further prevent the condition’s progression where surgery is required.

  • Physical Therapy

When someone experiences knee pain, it can alter their standing or walking patterns, harming their overall health. Therefore, it is crucial to correct these patterns. Physical therapy is a commonly recommended treatment option for knee injuries, either as a standalone approach or in combination with lifestyle modifications.

Physical therapy involves a range of knee-strengthening exercises and improves the range of motion. By performing these exercises, one can increase flexibility and build leg muscles. Certified therapists will evaluate your condition and analyze the mechanics of your movement to help you achieve your functional goals.

  • Weight Loss

Several studies show that excess weight can cause inflammation, worsening pain and discomfort. For an obese or inactive person, losing weight is a great way to treat knee pain. It alleviates the stress/pressure on the knee joints, improves the symptoms, and enhances overall physical health. 

  •  Medications

Your physician might recommend over-the-counter or prescription of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or non-narcotic pain relievers like paracetamol to reduce the inflammation and pain in your knee joints. 

Injections

Generally, injections are regarded as the surging treatment for knee pain. Here are some types that might suit the best for your condition. 

  • Corticosteroid Injections

These injections imitate the role of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. They typically take 3 to 7 days to take full effect and effectively reduce inflammation and alleviate pain, which would otherwise last upto six months.

  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections

PRP is another state-of-the-art injection approach where the patient’s growth factors in platelets are collected, concentrated and re-injected into the affected or injured area. Patients usually have to undergo one or two sessions. It will take 6-8 weeks to decrease pain, inflammation, accelerate healing, enhance mobility and improve joint function. 

  • Hyaluronic Acid Injections

Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by the body that helps lubricate joints to prevent or slow down degeneration. When you have a knee injury, injecting hyaluronic acid will boost natural production and protect your knees from swelling and pain. 

Braces and Supports

Knee pain is commonly the result of joint friction, which can trigger inflammation. However, braces and supports can provide relief by stabilizing the affected area. These devices help to modify the force in the knee and can even slow the progression of the condition, potentially avoiding the need for knee replacement surgery.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves the insertion of specialized sterile needles into certain acupuncture or pressure points. It will restore the flow of ‘qi’, a form of energy to relieve knee pain. However, it has to be performed by certified professionals to ensure safety and better results. 

 Advanced Non-Surgical Techniques

  • Radiofrequency Ablation

RFA or Radiofrequency Ablation is one of the innovative non-invasive treatments to heal knee pain caused by sudden falling or injury. It will target and treat the damaged nerve in the knee, preventing it from sending pain signals to the brain.

  • Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy refers to cold therapy, a highly effective treatment for knee pain. It is usually applied in various ways, including ice massage, ice packs, ice baths and coolant sprays on the affected knee. 

  • Electrical Nerve Stimulation

Electrical nerve stimulation involves the usage of low-voltage electric impulses to relieve knee pain. It inhibits the pain impulses from reaching the brain and spinal cord. The patient has to wear the device to generate the impulses, and the physician will suggest the frequency and duration. 

Conclusion

Knee pain is common, but knee replacement surgery isn’t the only treatment option. If you are suffering from knee pain, the first action is to consult an orthopaedic specialist instead of resigning yourself from missing out on your regular or favourite activities.

From physiotherapy to injection therapy, a wide range of minimally invasive treatments for knee pain will keep the pain under control, optimize your biomechanics, and enhance mobility. Opting for an individualized and comprehensive approach to your knee health will alleviate your knee pain without surgery, guiding the way towards a healthier and more active lifestyle.

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