We probably all know at least one person who’s had a joint replacement—a knee, a hip, maybe even a shoulder. If you ask them about that experience, the answers you get may range from, “It’s fine, although it took me a while to get back on my feet,” to “It’s been rough. I wish I’d tried other treatment options first.”
Many people have the idea that a replacement is going to magically make all their joint problems disappear—the pain, the stiffness, the decrease in their mobility and activity level. While it sounds like getting rid of the problem joint entirely and replacing it with something that won’t wear out for a long time is a brilliant solution—is that the reality?
What the Research Shows
Studies show that in the case of complete knee replacements, as many as a third of these surgeries are considered outright “inappropriate,” with fewer than half considered fully “appropriate.” (The rest were classified as “inconclusive.”) That means in at least one out of two cases, a full knee replacement probably wasn’t absolutely necessary.
In another study, complete hip joint replacements in osteoarthritis patients were deemed inappropriate or uncertain in about 60 percent of cases.
When you factor in a long recovery period and the health risks associated with these surgeries, it’s wise to try other treatments before jumping on the joint replacement bandwagon. In fact, replacement surgeries can cause:
- Infection and healing issues
- Swelling and stiffness
- Blood clots
- Bone fractures during surgery
- Nerve damage
When you also consider recovery times—months to more than a year in some cases—and the fact that even artificial joints wear out over time, replacement is something you want to approach with great caution.
Consider Your Options
Joint replacement surgery is risky and not warranted in every case, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have an alternative. There are other, far less invasive therapies that work quite well for many people.
Regenerative therapy is a fairly new, rapidly growing type of joint treatment that uses the body’s own healing abilities. It’s a far gentler and more natural technique than the radical deconstruction of a joint that occurs with a replacement. With this method, a specialist in regenerative medicine will carefully analyze the problem area and diagnose it with medical imaging. This ensures the most appropriate treatment plan will be prescribed.
From there, the process might look like this:
- Controlling the pain. While steroids are traditionally prescribed for joint pain, these cannot be taken long-term because of the damage they can do to the stomach and liver. A safer approach is to identify which nerves are transmitting pain in the problem areas and block them from sending signals to the brain.
- Reconditioning and bracing. With the pain under control, it’s time to look at what caused the joint problem in the first place and address that. If you’ve been stressing or using your joint in the wrong way, the specialist will determine how to correct that. You may need to strengthen the joint through exercise, and in some cases, a brace can help stabilize it.
- Lubricating the joint naturally. This involves the use of targeted hyaluronic acid injections to the affected areas. Hyaluronic acid is a substance that your body makes itself to serve as nature’s own lubricant. This decreases the bone-on-bone friction that causes pain and further damage to the joint.
- Helping the body rebuild its own joints. This remarkable technology uses stem cells and platelet rich plasma, substances that encourage the body to heal itself. Even better, the best specialists acquire these materials from the patient’s own body, taking it from areas where it occurs in high concentration and injecting it into the problem areas. Because these cells are the patient’s own, there’s no risk of rejection or a negative reaction. Instead, they go straight to work to promote healing in the most natural way possible.
Less Invasive Is Better
Since regenerative therapy is a natural, minimally-invasive way to repair a joint, isn’t it an obvious choice? Although there may be situations in which a joint replacement is unavoidable, this number is far less than the actual number of replacements actually performed each year, as we’ve seen.
And once a joint is replaced, there’s no going back—it’s permanent. If it turns out badly, there’s nothing for it except additional surgery. Adding in the risks and the long recovery times associated with a replacement should make us think twice about going that route if there’s an alternative.
So instead of fighting against your body, try working with it to help it heal itself. At Flexogenix®, we offer non-surgical solutions for knee and joint pain. Contact us today for a free consultation, and learn more about non-surgical pain relief and natural healing.