If you are experiencing chronic, nagging pain in one and/or both of your knees, chances are that you have likely tried a host of methods to end or at least ease the pain — methods ranging from injections, physical therapy, and the ice-heat cycle to the “wait and see” method, acupuncture, and perhaps even over-the-counter ointments. Yet, it may seem that nothing has ever truly resolved that pain and discomfort. No doubt that this has had an impact on the physical demands of your life, especially if you like staying active through hobbies and exercise. It can be extremely frustrating to remain stagnant in your quest for a pain-free life, not to mention the toll that living in pain takes on your patience, time, and bank account. At the end of the day, we all just want to go about our days without being inhibited by nagging knee pain. The good news is that there are new, highly-effective treatment options available for ridding you of that pain once and for all. And the best part about these options? They are minimally invasive and proven to be far more effective than the treatments of the past.
Knee pain or degeneration of the knee is very common among people of all ages, genders, and races. Whether you’ve suffered from a serious injury like a torn ACL, or you are just weathering the pain of regular wear and tear, arthritis in the knee is a common diagnosis made by physicians when patients complain of pain in the knees. Playing high-contact sports such as soccer, football, or basketball can increase the likelihood or accelerate the timeline of knee pain due to the quick changes of direction in leg movements. Younger female athletes also tend to have an increased risk of ACL tears due to the way their bones develop, the presence of estrogen, and other developmental factors. Being overweight is another cause of knee pain, as more weight adds excess stress to the knee joints and causes more wear and tear over time.
Once the knee has started to deteriorate, it is difficult to achieve full restoration of normal cartilage function. The knee joint performs a myriad of responsibilities every day as a focal point for leg movement. Unfortunately, traditional treatment options like injections, physical therapy, and medications only treat the symptoms and not the root cause of knee pain. For instance, steroid injections are strong anti-inflammatory medication used to treat the pain associated with arthritis–but corticosteroids are not meant to fully treat the cause of pain behind the knee, and instead just treat the symptoms. Hyaluronic acid is another form of an injection intended to mimic normal joint fluid in the knee; this can be beneficial for short-term relief, but is not permanent and requires consistent dosing. Physical therapy is another great asset to helping reduce pain and improve function of the knee, but can only reduce pain and swelling over time.
The field of regenerative medicine is fast growing, and for good reason. These outpatient, non-surgical procedures are quickly becoming the most viable alternative to knee surgery. One option within the regenerative medicine umbrella is the use of your body’s own stem cells. Healing using your own body can be a more natural and permanent solution for many orthopedic conditions. These mesenchymal stem cells can differentiate into the cartilage lineage of cells and heal the arthritic joint. The stem cells are extracted from the patient’s hip bone, and then injected into the damaged knee joint. Most patients seem to see some relief in the first two months, and their condition will gradually improve over 6-12 months. This procedure is a viable alternative to surgery or even a knee replacement–which can put you off your feet for several weeks or months.
Another regenerative option for knee conditions is Platelet Rich Plasma (commonly referred to as “PRP”) is a permanent solution for conditions like arthritis and other orthopedic ligament/tendon sprains and tears. Using the body’s own plasma into the damaged joint promotes tissue repair and accelerates healing. The great part of PRP is that you can get back to a pain-free life in four to six weeks.
Microfragmented adipose injections are the third option to heal the body by using cells found in fat. Fat contains a variety of cells including pericytes and stem cells, which can aid the repair and reconstruction of injured tissue. Since microfragmented adipose has a fatty property, it tends to stay in the affected area and heals the body quickly and effectively.
If your days are plagued with chronic knee pain, don’t delay seeking the treatment you deserve. Your knee is a vital part of your everyday movement and the more it deteriorates, the harder it is to regain full healing. Our regenerative medicine team will work with you to create a treatment plan that works for you to get you back to what you love doing. It’s time to drop the “wait and see” method and take control of your knee pain.
Dr. Niteesh Bharara is a world-renowned, double board certified orthopedic physician specializing in non-surgical sports medicine. He serves as the Director of Regenerative Medicine at Virginia Spine Institute and leads the Mid-Atlantic region in performing effective natural therapies such as stem cell therapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), prolotherapy, and adipose injections. Dr. Bharara’s distinguished expertise within this field earned him 2022 Face of Regenerative Medicine, and Top Doctor recognition in consecutive years. Learn more about Dr. Bharara.