Chronic knee pain is defined as long-term pain, swelling, or sensitivity in one or both knees. There are many conditions that can lead to this type of pain; thankfully, however, there are also many treatment options. Often patients suffering from knee pain – especially those that have knee pain after a knee replacement – worry that they’ll have to live with pain. No matter the cause, you do not have to live with chronic knee pain. There are a variety of treatment options that can give you knee pain relief and ensure that chronic knee pain doesn’t interfere with your quality of life.
Understanding Chronic Knee Pain
Chronic knee pain is characterized by knee pain that never goes away and that generally consists of a constant ache, a sharp or shooting pain when in use, or a dull burning or discomfort. Most patients experience knee pain when walking or knee pain when bending. Some patients also experience chronic swelling and tenderness to the touch.
In most cases, chronic knee pain is the result of a variety of factors and conditions including osteoarthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, chondromalacia patella, gout, Baker’s cyst, rheumatoid arthritis, dislocation, meniscus tear, ligament tears, or bone tumors.
Chronic Knee Pain Treatment
Treatment for chronic knee pain varies based on both the type of injury and the type of pain experienced. Each patient requires a unique treatment plan catered to their unique condition and situation, but common treatments include physical therapy, medication, injections, lifestyle modifications, and, in limited cases, surgery. Lifestyle modifications can be particularly effective and often include maintaining a healthy weight, decreasing alcohol and tobacco use, and regularly doing low-stress exercises such as swimming, walking, or cycling. Further, for many patients, innovative injection treatments provide lasting relief.
Minimally Invasive Procedures and Injections for Chronic Knee Pain
There are a number of minimally invasive procedures and injections that can effectively provide patients relief both in the short and the long term.
Corticosteroids are injections that can help to reduce pain and swelling in the body. These injections are placed in the joint, and, for some patients, can provide pain relief for a few months. However, because of concerns that these shots can cause the cartilage in joints to deteriorate, they should not be given more often than every six weeks and generally are not given more than three or four times a year.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a minimally invasive, regenerative medical procedure that can lead to lasting relief as it enables the body’s injured tissue to regenerate and repair itself. Platelets are small, solid components of the blood that are involved in clotting and an important part of your body’s natural healing process. Platelets both initiate the natural repair process and attract stem cells to further assist with healing. In PRP therapy, a small sample of blood is drawn and then placed in a centrifuge. The centrifuge separates platelets from other components and creates a plasma-rich solution that is then injected in or around the injury. This treatment is most effective for patients that have experienced tears, sprains, or injuries.
COOLIEF Ablation Therapy is an FDA-cleared radiofrequency treatment that can help to relieve osteoarthritis knee pain. COOLIEF is a minimally invasive procedure that works by deactivating pain-transmitting nerves. This procedure is unique in that it uses a water-cooled technology to deactivate targeted nerves, allowing for a larger targeted area. This type of procedure can provide pain relief for up to 12 months.
Viscosupplemental Therapy is a minimally invasive procedure that injects a gel-like substance – hyaluronic acid – into the knee joint to replace naturally occurring hyaluronic acid, which acts as a shock absorber and lubricant. It plays an important role in allowing joints to move smoothly over each other, yet it breaks down for patients with osteoarthritis, which can cause both pain and inflammation. Viscosupplemental therapy is effective because it not only injects additional hyaluronic acid into the knee, but it also stimulates the body’s production of this important substance. As a result, this treatment can effectively alleviate symptoms, decrease pain, and increase mobility. Patients that receive this treatment get weekly injections for either three or five weeks, depending on the formulary (for example Supartz, Hyalgan, Synvisc) used.
Whatever the cause of your chronic knee pain, there are treatment options to help alleviate your pain and improve your quality of life. Even if you’re suffering from ongoing pain after a knee replacement, you don’t have to live with knee pain. If you’re suffering from chronic knee pain, contact us today to schedule a consultation and to let us create a personalized treatment plan for you.