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  • Writer's pictureDr. Brandon

5 things you can start doing today to avoid getting a knee replacement

Are you dreading the next time you have to go up or down the stairs, getting up from a sofa, or are you avoiding certain exercises that you used to love because of knee pain? Knee pain can strike at any age and can be one of the most long lasting types of pain leading to lost time exercising or doing your favorite activities, increasing use of pain medications, injections, and when not treated quickly, knee surgery. One of the more common knee surgeries, especially in people over 50 is the total knee replacement. While knee replacement is often offered as the “only thing they can do”, most people I’ve treated who have had knee replacements would have preferred a natural alternative to knee replacement surgery. They especially wanted an alternative that kept them mobile and independent long into their 70’s and 80’s and not reliant on a cane or walker just to get around. So, in this article, I’ll cover 5 things you can do to avoid getting knee replacement surgery.

Before we talk about what to do-it helps to

know why somebody might be told they need a knee replacement. More often than not, by the time somebody is told they need a knee replacement, they’ve been suffering from chronic knee pain for years. What might have started as an injury when you were younger and you were told to rest and take medication(often dangerous opioids). If you exercised in the gym or were a runner, you were often told to not do those things for 6-8 weeks and come back in. When you came back in, no better, they often told you to stop running or lifting because they were “bad for your knees” (fun fact, research says running and other high intensity exercise is not bad for your knees and is not often the cause of knee pain) After you stopped exercising or running, you might have put on a few pounds while your legs got weaker and not able to support your knees quite as well. By not exercising or running, your body made less of the lubricant for your knees (which is stimulated when you do things like lift weights, walk, or run) and so you started to have more irritation to your knees. This irritation probably made you think you needed to rest more(not your fault-this is probably what your doctor said to do). Unfortunately, rest almost never gets to the root cause of why the knees (or any other joint) hurts.

Here’s why:

When I’m having knee pain, especially knee pain that comes and goes (or there are things that I can do to make it worse), there are often issues in the mobility of the knee (how well it moves) or of the joints above and below the knee that put extra stress on it. Or, some of the stabilizer muscles of the hip aren’t doing their jobs and protecting the knee and so the knee, which needs stability to work well, ends up having too much instability and gets irritated as a result. Unfortunately, rest doesn’t fix those problems…it just relieves the irritation at rest(and if you are a runner or somebody who likes to be active…rest is not what you want to be doing). With that in mind, here are 5 things you can start doing today to avoid having a knee replacement.

Need help now? Request a free consultation with one of our knee pain experts and get your personal questions answered and get to the root of why your knee hurts(and its often not what the x-ray says)

Tip #1: . Avoid Prolonged Rest: I get it-resting and lying down seems to help but...there is a ton of evidence that prolonged resting is one of the worst things you can do to recover from your knee pain. It leads to

  • Higher levels of pain and stiffness

  • Reduced flexibility and muscle strength

  • A slower(and often worse) recovery

  • More time away from work

By performing gentle exercises and staying active, your pain will recover faster than just resting

Tip #2: Find some type of cardiovascular aerobic exercise that lets you move for about 20-30 minutes pain free (or at least without aggravating your pain). For some, this is riding a bicycle while for others this means water aerobics. If you are dealing with severe knee pain, starting with water aerobics (and no you don’t need to know how to swim, simply walking in the shallow end of the pool is all you need to do) If you are dealing with chronic pain, you might only be able to do about 5 minutes before you need to take a break. That’s OK. I know you want to get better faster but respecting what aggravates knee pain is important at this stage

Tip #3: While you’re warmed up from your cardio and as long as your knee pain hasn’t been made worse, try some strengthening exercises for your hips and legs. If you’re in the water-go to the edge of the pool and kick your leg behind you and to the side then turn around and pick up your leg and kick your knee straight. If you are at home, use your counter to do this. You may need to alternate if your knee bothers you and only do this if you are safe to stand on one leg. Again, no need to set a personal best-getting started begins the process of healing and releasing your pain-relieving natural chemicals that your body makes as well as lubing the joint.

Tip #4: Eat the rainbow-literally-make sure your plate is full of colorful fruits and vegetables (many help fight inflammation and make you feel good). If you can stay away from simple sugars like those in sodas, sweet tea, and added to coffee as well as in baked goods you will be cutting down on things that promote inflammation and swelling along with increasing heart disease and diabetes. Replace juices, sweet tea, and sodas with water. I know this one is unpopular-but again, the sugar in these drinks adds up (1 pound of fat is 3500 calories or about 15 cans of soda) and even the diet version makes your body have the same response as if you had the sugar (insulin is a fat storing hormone). Even if you started with replacing 1 soda a day with water, you’ll reduce inflammation and feel better.

Tip #5: Don’t Ignore your Knee Pain until it is Too Late. While it’s true that some types of knee pain can get better over a few weeks, don’t make the mistake of ignoring it for too long. This is especially true if you have recurrent episodes of knee pain as it is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. It could be something simple, such as your sitting or lifting posture, which could easily be addressed with some advice and a few exercises. However, if you continue to ignore it, you risk severely injuring your knee which will

require multiple treatment sessions and time away from work, not to mention preventing you from doing the things in life you enjoy most. It is important to see an expert physiotherapist (as soon as you have knee pain) for an accurate diagnosis and so a treatment plan can be established

During one of our free consultations, the

Total Body Diagnostic, we offer expert advice about the worry and frustration of life-changing aches and pains – for FREE, in under 30 minutes.

If this article describes your story and you are looking for some help with something like knee, back or neck pain, we offer FREE consultations, which give you the opportunity to come in and meet us and see for yourself how we can help you.

Here are just a few of the things you will learn in one of our free consultation:

  • What is the underlying cause of your pain? (hopefully nothing too serious!)

  • Roughly, how long will it take to fix the problem?

  • What to do to help – which doesn’t include painkillers, resting or surgery etc.

  • What other, natural, drug free methods are there to speed up recovery alongside treatment?

Our consultations are great for anyone that may be “unsure” if physio is right for them, and they give you the opportunity to ask questions and see for yourself if we can help you.

If you’d like one of our limited free consultation sessions, please click here to request your Total Body Diagnostic or CALL us on 850-765-2779 to make a no-obligation enquiry.

About the author

Brandon Alkire, DPT, CSCS, FMS, Cert. DN

Doctor of Physical Therapy and Strength Coach

Dr. Brandon is the owner and a Physio at Body Mechanix Physiotherapy and Fitness. Four of his favorite people call him daddy while he's been married to his other favorite person for over 18 years. He enjoys teaching martial arts and is a Mestrando in Capoeira while in the mornings, he can be found working out with the guys in F3 around town.

He's the author of 4 pain relief guides for neck, low back, shoulder, and knees and the lead contributor to the Active Tallahassee Blog.

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