ABC News recently reported on the increased incidence of problems that are associated with total knee replacements. As the population advances in age and with obesity at an all time high, more and more people are suffering debilitating knee pain due to osteoarthritis. When conservative measures such as physical therapy, medications, cortisone injections, and viscosupplement (i.e. lubricant) injections fail to provide relief, many are left looking to surgery. In fact, the number of total knee arthroplasty (TKA) procedures went up an astounding 162 percent from 1991 to 2010 to nearly a quarter million surgeries.
While total knee replacements provide relief for many patients, they are not without their risks. Specifically, there has been an increase in multiple drug resistant infections which could mean readmission to hospitals as well as hardware malfunctions requiring repeat surgery. Last but not least, knee replacement parts wear out with use which means they would require replacement at some point, particularly for younger individuals. In a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Dr. Peter Cram of the University of Iowa and colleagues showed that while there were shorter initial hospital stays for most patients, these were offset by an increase in readmissions and as well as increase in complications for revision procedures, pearticularly wound infections. Also, according to another study published in the Journal of Rheumatology on Jan 11, 2011, between 8-13% of patients (i.e. 40,000-60,000 patients per year ) reported persistent moderate to severe pain in the prosthetic knee from infection, loosening, instability, or unknown causes.
While surgery is indicated in some cases of osteoarthritis, other patients have chosen alternatives to surgery from regenerative injections such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy and Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMC) therapy to help facilitate natural healing in osteoarthritic knees.