If a doctor has told you that your knees are ‘bone-on-bone’ and a total or partial knee replacement is in your future, keep reading to learn what they might not have told you.
So, what exactly does bone-on-bone mean? As cartilage in a joint deteriorates, the space between the bones decreases, the ends become closer together and there is less cushion between the bones that form the joints. When there is essentially no space left because of the loss of cartilage, the bones will rub against each other and this is what doctors are referring to when they say your joint is bone-on-bone. However, especially in knees, this diagnosis is not always 100% accurate. Narrowing of the space in the knee can also be attributed to damage of the meniscus. The best way to gauge joint space narrowing in the knees is by taking weight-bearing x-ray. Most people don’t have pain in their knees if they are sitting or lying down, so why take an x-ray in this position? If meniscal damage is suspected an MRI may be required to view the soft tissues within the knee better.
Knee replacement is a common procedure in the US, with hundreds of thousands of these procedures being performed each year. With the acceptance of these procedures nationwide, you might be wondering why anyone would consider alternatives. Surgery of any kind has risks that range from scarring and infection to death. Add in the risks that accompany joint replacement, such as blood clots, infection, implant loosening, an increased risk in heart attack, possible allergies to the metal in an implant, and osteolysis- when plastic or metal fragments are released from the knee implant into the body. Patients that weigh more experience lower success rates with a higher likelihood of complications; and patients that are smokers are at higher risk for other complications such as infections and stroke. To avoid these risks, many people suffer through the pain they experience because they think that surgery is the only option available to them. (BUT IT’S NOT!)
Pain doesn’t always go away after replacement surgeries; and most patients still have some level of pain after full recovery. Contributing factors to why so many patients still have pain include that sometimes x-ray results do not correspond to the level of pain that people experience and pain in the knee can be caused by other areas even if there is damage to the knee joint itself. Depending on the type of pain you experience nerve impingement in the lower back can refer to the knee, and for many patients there is not pain in the lower back- which means some doctors miss this as a possibility all together.
Many people considering knee replacement are unaware of the commitment that these procedures require. Before knee replacement, be prepared to alter the layout of your home so that you can move freely with a walker or crutches and, if your home has stairs, a sleeping area will need to be set up on the main floor. Once you are done with surgery and back in your home you will need to undergo months of physical therapy and home exercises to regain the strength and mobility in your knee. For the remainder of your life any elective invasive procedure-including any dental work- you must take antibiotics (before, during and after) to avoid infection of the replaced joint due to the bacteria produced by these procedures. Because the implant does breakdown over time, you will need to avoid high impact activities like running, skiing, tennis, or other sports that could speed this process up and require a second surgery to be performed.
This may be overwhelming or discouraging if you have been told you need knee replacement, but there is good news- stem cell and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections can eliminate the need for knee replacement. These procedures use your own bodies stem cells and healing factors to reduce arthritis, repair meniscal tears or ligament damage, and improve joint stability.
Our office works to determine the cause of your pain. We review imaging that you already have, send you for any other necessary imaging, and perform a physical exam to assess the function and stability of your joint. By taking the time to assess your condition and review the necessary testing we can more accurately determine if our procedures will benefit you. Our treatment protocols address the stability of the joint to increase the longevity of your results.
If you would like to learn more about how these procedures work and if they would benefit you or someone you love, we offer informational seminars at our office that allow you to learn more about what we offer and why we are different. Call our office today (636) 272-8888 to reserve your spot at the next seminar or skip the seminar and schedule a no charge consultation and image review with our doctor.
These procedures won’t work for every condition and, though it’s rare, surgery is the best option for some conditions. Don’t you owe it to yourself to call us to find out if you could benefit from these procedures?
8633 Mexico Rd
O’Fallon, MO 63366