You may need a knee replacement, but either you or your doctor would prefer to delay the procedure until it is absolutely necessary. There are ways you can minimize pain and stay functional until it is time for surgery, such as:
Reduce Your Weight
Although losing weight is much harder when you have one or both knees affected, it can be accomplished by focusing more on your diet. Losing weight may not slow the progression of knee degeneration, but it may improve your pain, making it easier to delay your surgery and accomplish day-to-day tasks. When focusing on your diet, try to determine an estimate of your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is the number of calories you should burn each day, without exercise. Subtract 250 to 500 calories from this number to determine the number of calories you should each day. Your daily activities and any exercise can be considered bonus calorie burn. By focusing your meals on lean meats, healthy fats, and non-starchy vegetables, while eating fruit and carbohydrates sparingly, it is much easier to stay in a caloric deficit without feeling constantly hungry.
Use Targeted Therapy
Fortunately, there are treatments that can specifically target the knee without taking systemic medication. Steroids can be injected directly into the knee to reduce inflammation and pain. Since it is a minor procedure, your family doctor may be willing to do your injections. The steroids are injected with an anesthetic, such as lidocaine. The anesthetic provides immediate, temporary pain relief, which can also be helpful to doctors so they know they are injecting the steroids in the appropriate area. After a few hours, the lidocaine wears off and pain returns until the steroids begin to work within the next day or two. Depending on the severity of your knee damage, you may only need a steroid injection sporadically to keep pain at a minimum.
Include Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can be useful for increasing strength in your knee and possibly making it less painful. Although doing different exercises for your knee may be painful at first, you should notice less pain over time. Some types of exercises you and your physical therapist may work on are strengthening specific muscle groups throughout the leg. Since many of the muscles in the calf and thigh add support to the knee, it is imperative to strengthen your entire leg. Additionally, if you have a "good" knee, doing exercises for both legs will keep your unaffected knee strong. When you have one affected knee, it is common to place a substantial burden on your unaffected knee, which can cause problems in the future. Other concerns your physical therapist may address are problems with your back or posture if it adds more stress on your knee when walking.
Although having a knee replacement can give you a new lease on life, you may not be ready for major surgery. Finding ways to strengthen your knee in the meantime and place less stress on the joint can reduce pain and improve function. For more information on joint replacement, contact a medical office near you.