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Medical Treatments for Knee Pain

People with knee pain may resort to medical interventions right away. However, the right home remedies may be all you need for your knee to heal itself. This could save you huge amounts of time, money and energy.


Before making a decision, ask yourself if you have all your options. Medical interventions like medications, injections and surgery may have more downsides than you think, while home remedies may be more effective than you can imagine.

Surgery

Surgery

Surgery is usually viewed as a last-resort treatment after more conservative methods have failed. This is because surgery always carries the risk of complications. Some of these may be severe, and very costly if they create the need for follow-up surgeries. Surgery also comes with a long recovery period.

Possible complications arising from knee surgery include:

  • Blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT): Occurs when blood clots form in the large veins of the leg. If the blood clots in the veins break apart, they can travel to the lung, where they lodge in the capillaries and cut off the blood supply to a portion of the lung (pulmonary embolism). This is potentially life-threatening.

  • Infection: Usually treated with antibiotics, but may require further surgery if the infection spreads deep into joint

  • Damage to nerves or tissue: May require further surgery to repair if it does not heal by itself

  • Anaesthesia complications: Some patients may have reactions to the drugs or other medical complications

  • Failure of surgery: Surgery may not relieve symptoms as expected, and may sometimes create new problems in your joints 

  • Hardware failure: Metal pins or screws used in joint operations may break or move from their correct position before surgery is completely healed. A second operation may be needed to remove or replace the hardware.

Knee surgery is also very expensive. For instance, the average cost of total knee replacement in the US is around $29,000, while the average cost of arthroscopic knee surgery is around $19,000. Other than the surgery itself, you will also need to pay for prescribed medications, as well as physical therapy or rehabilitation where necessary.

Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections are anti-inflammatory medicines that are injected into your knee joint to relieve pain and swelling.

 

While such injections can be very effective at relieving pain, the effect usually wears off after a few weeks or months. Hence, relying on such injections alone is not sustainable as a long-term solution, and repeated injections can be very costly

Corticosteroid injections may cause side effects including:

  • Infection

  • Depression or mood swings

  • Chest pain 

  • Changes to vision

Corticosteroidal injections may also not be suitable for you if you:

  • have had an allergic reaction to steroids in the past

  • have an infection (including eye infections)

  • have recently had, or are about to have, any vaccinations

  • are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying for a baby

  • have any other conditions, such as diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure, or problems with your liver, heart or kidneys

  • are taking other medicines, such as anticoagulants

Each injection costs around $100 - $300 in the US, and you will also have to pay for the doctor’s consultation, as well as any scans which need to be conducted such as x-rays.

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Hyaluronic Acid Injections

Your body produces hyaluronic acid as a part of the fluid that helps lubricate and cushion your joints. When you have osteoarthritis (OA), the hyaluronic acid in the joint thins.

 

Hyaluronic acid injections (viscosupplementation) add to your body's natural supply to improve joint lubrication and cushioning.

Hyaluronic acid injections may be used for knee OA in the following cases:

  • Symptoms do not go away after taking painkillers

  • Unable to take painkillers like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), or naproxen sodium (Aleve)

  • Unable or not ready to have total knee replacement surgery

 

Hyaluronic acid injections may be less effective in older adults and people with severe OA.

 

Common side effects of hyaluronic acid injections include:

  • Difficulty with moving

  • Muscle pain or stiffness

  • Pain in the joints

  • Swelling or redness in the joints

 

Hyaluronic acid injections may also not be suitable for you if you have:

  • Allergy to bacterial proteins, gram positive or

  • Allergy to hyaluronate preparations or

  • Skin or knee joint infections or other problems at the place where the injection is to be given — should not be given in patients with these conditions.

  • Joint effusion (too much fluid in the knees) — patients with this condition should be treated first before receiving this medicine.

 

Hyaluronic acid injections are also expensive, costing around $800 in the US.

Assortment of Pills

Medications

Mild to moderate knee pain may be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). OTC NSAIDs include ibuprofen (e.g. Motrin, Advil) and naproxen sodium (e.g. Aleve).

 

For people who cannot tolerate NSAIDs, acetaminophen can be used as well. Medications that contain acetaminophen include Panadol, Tylenol, Actamin, FeverAll. 

Like all medicines, NSAIDs carry the risk of side effects. These tend to be more common if you have been taking high doses for a long time, you are elderly or you are in poor general health. 

The most common side effects of NSAIDs are mild, such as:

  • Diarrhoea

  • Headaches

  • Drowsiness

  • Dizziness 

 

However, rarer side effects may include

  • Stomach ulcers

  • Kidney and liver problems

  • Increased risk of heart attacks or strokes

Physiotherapy Rehabilitation Technology

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is a great way to treat knee pain. It is much less invasive and has a much lower risk of side effects compared to other medical interventions. 

 

However, for it to be effective, you must attend sessions repeatedly and consistently. The costs can thus stack up significantly over time. One session of physiotherapy for knee injuries costs around $100 in the US.

How HeatPulse & Thermosleeve Can Help

HeatPulse

Heat & Massage

  • For stiffness, tightness, and range of motion

  • For older injuries 

  • Encourages healing

Learn more >

Thermosleeve

Ice & Compression

  • For pain, swelling, and inflammation

  • First 72h after acute injury / flare-up of old injury

  • Provides relief

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HeatPulse 
Knee Massager

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Thermosleeve
Cold Compression Sleeve

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