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Five Non Surgical Ways to Avoid a Knee Replacement

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By Farhan Malik, MD
Atlanta Innovative Medicine

Knee arthritis affects tens of millions of Americans, typically causing chronic pain and inhibiting one’s ability to participate fully in recreational activities. Arthritis may be a result of previous trauma such as a sports injury or auto accident, or simply a natural course of degenerative arthritis wearing out one’s protective cartilage. Autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus may lead to significant arthritis as well.

Over a million knee replacements are performed annually in the US, with the operation being portrayed as a safe and effective means of eliminating pain and helping individuals return to previous activities. At least that’s what initial studies showed as the operation gained in popularity during the latter part of the twentieth Century.

However, more recent studies have shown that close to 40% of patients are extremely unhappy with their knee replacement results a year after the surgery. Why? The main study showing this from Hospital for Special Surgery related it mostly to continued pain in the operated knee. The unfortunate thing is that a knee replacement is irreversible, so if a patient ends up with post-surgical chronic pain it often NEVER goes away!

Since a knee replacement operation is irreversible and may result in an unhappy patient one third of the time, it would be best to avoid the need for it altogether. What are the best ways to achieve knee arthritis relief and avoid the need for replacement?

  1. Physical Therapy and Weight Loss
  2. Hyaluronic Acid
  3. PRP Therapy
  4. Amniotic Allograft
  5. Stem Cell Therapy

Physical therapy combined with a weight loss program is an excellent first step for achieving pain relief. By strengthening muscles around the knee, it can relieve pressure on an arthritic knee and help patients with pain relief and increasing function. The same holds true for weight loss. By making lifestyle changes that lead to losing weight, significant pressure can be relieved during standing, walking and running.

A second option for those with knee pain involves hyaluronic acid injections. The HA injections are FDA Approved and typically covered by insurance up to a couple times per year. The hyaluronic acid is actually manufactured from rooster combs, but is biocompatible with human knees. The injections typically provide amazing relief for three to six months. When they stop providing significant relief, patients often turn to regenerative medicine options for knee pain relief.

When it comes to regenerative medicine, there are a few fantastic options available for patients. One of these is platelet rich plasma therapy, known as PRP. PRP is a quick, safe regenerative therapy that simply involves a blood draw from the patient. The blood is then concentrated so that platelets, growth factors and plasma are injected into the knee.

How well does PRP therapy in Atlanta work for knee pain relief? Studies have consistently shown excellent knee pain relief with PRP, while being an extremely safe procedure. A study out of the Hospital for Special Surgery showed a single PRP knee injection provided up to 12 months of continuous relief, with serial MRI’s over that time showing it prevented cartilage degradation.

Amniotic allograft therapy involves birth tissue that comes from a donor. After a scheduled c-section, amniotic fluid is donated, processed at an FDA regulated lab, and then commonly used for joint pain relief.

Amazingly, amniotic fluid includes a plethora of regenerative elements such as hyaluronic acid, cytokines, growth factors, and exosomes as well. These proteins are instrumental in facilitating repair and regeneration of damaged joints. The amniotic fluid used for the knee pain relief procedures is not only safe, but studies have shown it to be over 85% effective for joint pain for over six months!

Stem Cell Therapy in Atlanta at AIM involves using either the patient’s own tissue (autograft), or using tissue from a donor (allograft). The best stem cell therapy for knee pain relief involves a decision between the patient and doctor with regard to which procedure will be best. For the autograft procedure, adipose stem cell therapy has been shown to be the best option with regards to safety, effectiveness and numbers of stem cells available.

The autograft adipose stem cell therapy is an outpatient procedure, where the fat is removed in a mini-liposuction procedure (added bonus) from the belly area. The fat is then processed with a process called Stromal Vascular Tissue (SVT), which is FDA Compliant and results in many millions of stem cells available. The stem cell knee injection is performed during the same setting.

The allograft stem cell therapy involves umbilical cord tissue, once again from a consenting donor after a scheduled c-section. The cord tissue is processed at an FDA Certified lab, and contains growth factors, extracellular vesicles, stem cells, cytokines and secretomes. These cells and proteins work together as a “virtual orchestra” to facilitate repair and regeneration of damaged knee tissue.

While most traditional knee pain relief treatments have been proverbial “band aids, stem cell therapy represents a new paradigm. The tissue actually provokes a response in one’s body to create more normal tissue, which leads to increased function and reduced pain. Typically, the pain relief achieved is long term and frequently helps patients avoid the need for a knee replacement.

Both the autograft adipose and allograft umbilical cord procedures have been shown to be extremely safe. Infections are extremely rare, and patients do not reject the allograft tissue. When you look at the exceptional benefits achieved versus the low risk profile, stem cell therapy has shown itself to be a first rate option for those with debilitating knee arthritis.

Atlanta Innovative Medicine works with each knee pain patient on customized programs designed to achieve the most amount of relief, without surgery or drugs. By offering all five of these nonsurgical options, AIM understands that each patient deserves a unique program to achieve the best outcome.

Call Atlanta Innovative Medicine to set up your free consultation to see how we can help you avoid a knee replacement today at 770.416.9995.

References:

1. Orthopedics Today, May 2016, Accessed 2/4/21, Link:
https://www.healio.com/news/orthopedics/20160516/high-incidence-of-pain-common-1-year-following-tka

2. A Randomized Controlled Single-Blind Study Demonstrating Superiority of AmnioticSuspension Allograft Injection Over Hyaluronic Acid and Saline Control for Modification of Knee Osteoarthritis Symptoms, Journal of Knee Surgery, 2019;32:1143–1154.

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