Over 600,000 knee replacements are performed in the U.S. each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and most are caused from knee pain due to osteoarthritis(OA) (“wear and tear”), rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation), or post-traumatic arthritis (serious acute injury). Among that number, about one-third of knee replacements are classified as “inappropriate” based on a patient classification system developed and validated in Spain, according to a recent research published in Arthritis & Rheumatology.
Dr. Daniel Riddle from the Department of Physical Therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond led the study, and examined several criteria that are used to determine if a patient is qualified to receive a knee replacement surgery. On Science Daily, he said that their study may be the first in the U.S. to “compare validated criteria of appropriateness with real-life cases of knee replacements.”
After the data from 205 patients was collected and analyzed, researchers found that 34 percent of the surgeries were deemed “inappropriate,” 22 percent were “inconclusive,” and 44 percent were “appropriate.” About 60 percent of the group was female and the average age of the patients was 67 years. Riddle and his colleagues found that the inappropriateness of knee replacement surgery was higher than expected and was linked to further knee pain and loss of function. A “patient selection criteria” should be implemented in the U.S., said Riddle.
With over one-third of knee replacements being considered inappropriate, some cases of knee pain should be treated with a much less invasive and more economic approach. Current literature and our experience indicate that intra-articular (IA) injections are safe and have positive effects for patient satisfaction and recent studies indicate that IA platelet rich plasma injections are promising for relieving pain, improving knee function and quality of life, especially in younger patients, and in mild OA cases. Viscosupplementation is ideal for patients with mild to moderate OA of the knee and may be especially useful for patients who have not responded to other OA treatments, such as physical therapy, weight loss, pain relievers, and corticosteroid injections.
Having one set of research that states one-third of knee replacements are “inappropriate” may not necessarily mean that it is an absolute truth. However, physicians and surgeons should provide valid, non-invasive approaches, such as IA viscosupplementation to patients with mild or moderate conditions. The decision to have surgery or not should depend on each individual’s condition, health, fitness and choice.
At Flexogenix® we offer non-surgical solutions for joint pain. Contact us today for a free initial consultation and learn about your non-surgical options.