Chronic Knee Pain

Chronic Knee Pain

May 26, 2017          By Dr. Richard Wolf

Learn about chronic knee pain, and why surgery isn't the best answer.

If you’re reading this, most likely you either have or have had knee pain.

You’ve either damaged your knee(s) before, and you’ve done it again, or you don’t know what happened, but your knees hurt.

Believe it or not, there is an aging process that goes on and knees get weaker, but you have to learn how to be careful.

So here’s a few questions.

  • Are you concerned about the imminent possibility of knee surgery? If you have knee pain... you should be.
  • Do you dread getting out of your chair after dinner or a movie and have to struggle doing it?
  • Do you search for elevators or escalators even if you only have to go down one flight of stairs because of your knees?
  • Are you popping pain pills and anti-inflamatories like candy? That’s a bad sign, and if you keep it up you’re going to have more health issues from the side effects.
  • Do your knees pop and crack more and more every week?

I mentioned the side effects of pain medications, even the ones you buy over the counter, but did you know that long term use of NSAIDS like ibuprofen, naproxen or pain killers like Tylenol can lead to many other health problems not limited to kidney or liver failure and internal bleeding?

Are you worried that surgery might be just around the corner?

If you are a knee pain sufferer you are not alone. 25% of patient visits to primary care physicians and 100 million Americans suffer from knee pain and arthritis.

So what is osteoarthritis and what might be causing you your knee pain?

Osteoarthritis (OA), is a big word, but it’s also known as degenerative joint disease or DJD. It's the most common type of arthritis.

Just like a piece of wood that is left outside begins to rot (degenerate) when it’s exposed to the weather, your joints are the same way.

Here's what usually happens:

The cartilage begins to break down (from wear and tear, old sports injuries, new injuries, poor diet, a lack of water which causes dehydration etc.) which can lead to pain, inflammation and most likely a loss of range of motion in your knee joints.      

DJD or osteoarthritis doesn’t happen overnight. It will develop slowly, usually over a period of years (even though there’s no pain, just some discomfort) and it’s usually made worse by some of the following:

  • Extra weight on the joints from being overweight, or having issues with obesity 
  • Joint injury from an old accident, even an old sports injury from high school, or college. 
  • Misaligned joints, where things wear out if they’re not aligned. Your knees are just like a car front end. Once out of alignment your joints will wear out faster. Keep them lined up correctly and in the proper position and your joints will not wear out. 
I don’t know about you, but if you take 1,000 people over the age of 65 years old, and you ask all of them if they have knee pain, they’re all not going to have issues with their knees.

Why? Because some people take better care of their bodies and knees than other people. What causes knee pain?

  • Overuse or stress on joints from repetitive activities from sports, work and leisure activities. I mentioned this early, but I’m mentioning it again because so many people forget what they did back in high school and how quickly they healed, or they thought they healed. 
  • Time! Unfortunately, the longer you are alive, the more of these that things will occur. 

My job is to help you feel better, stay aligned, and get relief from your achy, swollen knees.

Some people just keep on taking medications and HOPE that the more they take, the better the pain will get. That’s a fallacy. It doesn't happen that way. Medication is good at one thing - covering up the symptoms.

If you are not getting adequate results from oral medications and physical therapy, and you’re tired of suffering from some of the side effects associated with oral medications that can wreak havoc on your immune system, where you feel okay, but you’re actually getting worse inside, this is something you have to get on board with today.

What about surgery? You might even be reading this, even though you have a surgery scheduled.

That’s not a problem. Don’t forget you can call and get that surgery rescheduled or cancelled if your knee comes around without surgery. Are you aware of how many failed knee surgeries there are per year?

Knee Surgery No Better Than Sham Surgery

This latest study (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa013259), conducted in Finland and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined 146 patients with degenerative meniscal tears (caused by "wear and tear," not acute injury). Here's another reference: https://www.painscience.com/biblio/fascinating-landmark-study-of-placebo-surgery-for-knee-osteoarthritis

In summary, researchers divided patients into two groups. One group received the standard surgery, and the other received a "sham surgery"- a fake or placebo intervention where NO actual surgery would take place.

The study excluded people with knee arthritis, because they tend not to benefit as much from meniscus surgery and the researchers wanted to ascertain if the surgery helps under " ideal circumstances ."

The sham surgery involved the physician's making an incision and poking around without any actual cartilage shaving or cutting .

Many of the patients were given epidural anesthesia, so they were awake, making it necessary for surgical staff to use their " theatrical talents " to pull off a believable “sham” surgery.

The outcome? One year later, both groups reported equally favorable responses to the procedure—primarily, reduction in knee pain .

In the end, the researchers concluded that the real knee surgeries offered no better outcomes than the sham surgeries.

Arthroscopic surgery on the meniscus is the most common orthopedic procedure in the United States, performed about 700,000 times a year.

Any surgeon who tells you that surgery is the best or only option for your knee pain will not have a leg to stand on when you show him or her all of the evidence to the contrary.

There are other alternatives to surgery. Call our office at 973-761-5060 for a free, no-obligation talk with Dr. Wolf to learn more!
You can also click here to either send us an email to request an appointment, or request a free copy of Dr. Wolf's book! 

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