As knee replacement surgery numbers rise, Dr. Samir Sharma suggests other remedies before choosing surgery. According to the New York Times, an alternative to curative measures is gaining speed.
It’s a part of the human condition: the body wears down over time. As we age, our bones get weaker and our joints sorer. Arthritic conditions are not uncommon. But according to the New York Times, knee replacement surgery is becoming very popular.
Many see knee replacement surgery as a way to fix their ailing leg joints. While this is a common belief, it isn’t necessary a good one. Dr. Samir Sharma agrees with rheumatologist Dr. David Felson. “People with osteoarthritis are relaying more and more heavily on surgery,” says Felson. He contends that the rate of knee replacement surgery has shot up to over 800% since 1979.
Some arthritis-related surgeries do work, says the doctor. He describes hip replacement as a “dynamite” operation, meaning it brings about real results. Unfortunately, many who opt for surgery for their knee problems don’t ever see such results. Studies show that between 10% and 30% never see the improvement they hope for.
As a result, many physicians suggest that patients alter their lifestyles. Losing weight remains one of the best ways to relieve knee pain. When walking, joints receive a force one and a half times the walker’s total body weight. Joggers’ joints, on the whole, receive up to eights times one’s weight.
As such, both weight loss and abstinence from impacting activities can reduce pain. Even a 10% reduction in body weight can result in a huge difference. With obesity on the rise, the American public will start to see more and more incidents of joint pain. Researchers have found that changes in lifestyle—including weight management and appropriate exercise—greatly lessens the risk.
Doctors suggest that those with knee pain emphasize strengthening the thigh muscles. Squats, leg presses, and extension exercises all preserve range of motion. Reports show that weaker legs lead to greater pain. Proper muscle-building should be monitored.
Through lifestyle changes, many have seen a reduction in knee pain. In addition to reducing pain, lifestyle changes are much less expensive than surgery. Doctor Samir Sharma suggests attempting to relieve pain before opting for surgical measures.
Doctor Samir Sharma works at the South Bay Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic. He treats patients with a wide variety of ailments, using both surgical and non-surgical means.