Chronic knee pain is a debilitating condition that affects millions of Americans. Most cases of chronic knee pain are due to osteoarthritis or soft tissue injuries around the knee that never healed properly. Struggling with knee pain can be frustrating, especially when it impacts your everyday activities. There are non-invasive treatments that can improve knee pain and function. Here are some options to consider:
PRP stands for Platelet Rich Plasma. Platelets are specialized pieces of bone marrow found in our blood. They produce chemicals that signal immune cells to heal injuries and rebuild tissues.
PRP injections are safe and relatively simple. The provider starts by taking a sample of the patient’s blood. The blood is processed to separate the platelets and the plasma (the liquid part of the blood) from the red blood cells. The platelets and a small amount of plasma are then injected into the injured knee.
Since the injections are made from the patient’s own blood, there is no risk of allergic reaction or exposure to pathogens. This makes PRP one of the safest treatments available.
PRP acts inside the arthritic joint or injured soft tissue to reduce inflammation and help your body heal. Patients receive an initial course of three injections. Some patients also receive a yearly booster shot.
The treatment activates the body’s natural healing process, so results don’t happen overnight. Most patients notice some improvement after the first shot, but it can take several weeks to reach maximum pain reduction. The wait is worth it, though, as PRP lasts longer than other treatments like cortisone shots. This is because real healing is taking place. Arthritis patients usually experience pain relief for about a year before needing another injection. Patients with soft tissue injuries can often be completely cured after the initial treatments.
Hyaluronic Acid Injections
Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance produced by our bodies to lubricate joints and give shape and “bounce” to our skin. As we age, we produce less HA, and as a result, the lubricant in our joints becomes thinner and less able to cushion the cartilage from wear and tear. Researchers believe that hyaluronic acid also reduces inflammation and protects nerves within the knee joint.
Several studies have proven the effectiveness of hyaluronic acid for knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis and overuse injuries. Once it is injected within the joint, it reduces inflammation, forms a protective barrier around nerves, and cushions the joints from shock. When used during the beginning stages of osteoarthritis, it can even slow or prevent further degeneration.
In 2018 a double-blind study determined that using both PRP injections and hyaluronic acid injections improved pain and functionality in a group of subjects suffering from severe knee pain and limited mobility. The study found that patients treated with both types of injections experienced a significant reduction in pain, cartilage degeneration, and bone destruction.
Arthritis patients and those healing from a soft tissue injury can benefit from rehabilitation and chiropractic care. There are several different treatments that fall under these headings that may be helpful. These include:
Kinesiotherapy: This is the treatment of disease by active and passive muscular movements. It can include massage, exercises, and stretches. Strengthening weak muscles around the knee or relaxing tight muscles can help improve knee function and reduce pain. Movement is also beneficial to the joint itself. Knee-safe exercises can help increase blood flow and lubrication within the joint and reduce stiffness.
Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy is a type of cold therapy that uses a specialized chamber to cool the whole body down. Patients with osteo and rheumatoid arthritis have noticed whole-body pain reduction after cryotherapy sessions. After the body has been cooled, it tries to heat itself back up. It does this by increasing circulation. Increased blood flow helps to carry away toxins and inflammation, reducing pain.
Graston Technique: The Graston Technique is a proven soft tissue treatment that uses massage with specialized instruments to break up excess scar tissue. When a wound has healed with too much scar tissue, it can cause chronic pain and reduced range of motion. The Graston technique can help improve these symptoms.
Post-injury and Post-Surgery Rehab– Stretches, exercises and massage are necessary for the best possible healing to take place. Traumatized muscles and tendons need to be retrained and restrengthened. Specialized massage techniques can help the injury heal without excess internal scar tissue (which can cause stiffness and chronic pain).
Weight Loss and Dietary Changes
Our knees have to support our weight while moving and helping us balance. It’s a hard job, and extra weight can lead to knee pain. Studies have shown that overweight individuals are at an increased risk for injury and arthritis. For some people with knee pain, losing weight is all that’s needed to fix the problem.
Obesity can be a vicious cycle. Excess fat produces estrogen and can encourage inflammation throughout the body– making it even harder to lose weight. Because obese people experience more inflammation, they are also more prone to joint pain.
A diet that helps correct insulin resistance and supports a healthy hormonal balance can help patients lose stubborn fat. This weight loss, combined with a healthy, anti-inflammation diet, will reduce knee pain and improve overall health.
Knee Pain Treatment in Houston
At Vanguard Spine & Sport, we provide holistic solutions for patients experiencing knee pain. We consider lifestyle, diet, and medical history and design treatment plans personalized to our patients. Our providers have given hundreds of PRP and hyaluronic acid injections and seen the improvement these treatments make in our patients’ quality of life. We also offer a variety of physiotherapy treatments. You don’t have to live with knee pain. Come in today to consult with one of our caring chronic pain experts.