Managing Knee Pain: Non-Surgical Options

Knee pain is a common issue that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether from an acute injury or a chronic condition, the discomfort can significantly impact one’s daily life and hinder mobility. At TJN Ortho in Thousand Oaks, California, we diagnose and treat knee injuries daily and understand why our patients are often interested in exploring non-surgical options to manage knee pain effectively. 

To determine whether you can manage your pain without surgery, let’s look at the various causes of knee pain and highlight the different non-surgical interventions available to treat minor injuries at home.

Understanding the Causes of Knee Pain

To address knee pain appropriately, we must first identify its root causes. Several factors can contribute to knee pain, including:

  • Overuse and Strain: Engaging in repetitive activities or exercises that put excessive stress on the knee joint can lead to inflammation and pain.
  • Acute Injuries: Sudden falls, twists, or direct impacts can cause sprains, strains, or tears in the ligaments, tendons, or cartilage.
  • Degenerative Conditions: Osteoarthritis, a common degenerative joint disease, can lead to gradual wear and tear of the knee joint’s cartilage, resulting in pain and stiffness.
  • Inflammatory Conditions: Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or gout can cause inflammation in the knee joint, leading to pain and swelling.
  • Infection: In rare cases, an infection in the knee joint can cause severe pain and require immediate medical attention.

Treating Minor Knee Injuries with Home Care

Home care can be the first line of defense for minor knee injuries resulting from sprains, strains, or overuse. For these types of injuries, whether in the knee or anywhere else, there is a standard protocol that we wholeheartedly endorse called the RICE protocol:

  • Rest: Avoid putting weight on the injured knee and take a break from activities that worsen the pain.
  • Ice: Applying ice packs to the affected area for 15-20 minutes every few hours can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
  • Compression: Wearing a compression bandage can support the injured knee and reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Elevating the knee above heart level whenever possible can minimize swelling.

In addition, you can take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to address the pain and help address the inflammation.

While home care using the RICE protocol may be effective for minor injuries, it is essential to stress the significance of seeking proper medical evaluation for persistent or severe knee pain, especially any knee problems that do not respond satisfactorily to the RICE protocol. 

Non-Surgical Medical Interventions for Knee Pain

Knee conditions that are not adequately addressed by home care require more aggressive medical intervention. However, that does not always mean surgery. To assess whether some non-invasive procedures can help your condition, get a prompt and accurate diagnosis and timely treatment to prevent exacerbating your injury and improve the outcome. At Tchejeyan Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, you can get a thorough physical examination of your injured knee, and we can order appropriate imaging tests to diagnose the underlying cause of your knee pain accurately.

Fortunately, many knee conditions can be effectively managed without resorting to surgery. Some non-surgical treatment options include:

  • Corticosteroid Injections: Corticosteroids injected directly into the knee joint can relieve pain by reducing inflammation.
  • Hyaluronic Acid Injections: Also known as viscosupplementation, these injections can lubricate the knee joint and alleviate pain in patients with osteoarthritis.
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy: PRP therapy involves injecting concentrated platelets from the patient’s blood into the knee joint to promote healing and reduce pain.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: Stem cell injections utilize the regenerative properties of a patient’s own stem cells to promote tissue repair and reduce inflammation. Stem cell therapy has shown encouraging results in treating osteoarthritis and mild to moderate ligament or tendon injuries.
  • Physical Therapy: Customized physical therapy programs can help improve knee strength, stability, and flexibility while reducing pain.
  • Bracing and Orthotics: Using knee braces or orthotic devices can provide support and alignment, reducing pain during daily activities.

Seek Professional Help From TJN Ortho

If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent knee pain, there are usually several avenues that can be taken to obtain relief. The first option is to address the pain with home care, using the RICE protocol and pain medications. However, if an injury is more serious, it is vital to get an accurate diagnosis. In some cases, you can obtain a remedy using non-invasive techniques. However, if these remedies are inadequate, surgery may be necessary. Thankfully, many knee injuries can be addressed through minimally invasive surgical procedures.

Knee pain is common, but you don’t have to let knee pain keep you down. With the proper care, you can get back on your feet and back to your favorite activities quickly. If you have knee pain and need expert advice, call TJN Ortho today