So What are my Alternatives To knee REplacement Surgery?

Let's face it alternatives to knee replacement surgery are limited. So what other options should one consider when faced with chronic knee pain? Here is a short video on the whole concept of what is causing the epidemic of chronic knee pain. If you have pain in only one knee because of a previous injury, you might think that this doesn't apply but there is evidence that lowering inflammation in animal models slows the progression of osteoarthritis post injury. 

The Standard American Diet is highly inflammatory and a comprehensive program is key.

alternatives to knee replacement surgery explained

Access transcript below if you prefer to read.

Hi, my name is Michelle Stiles. I'm a physical therapist in your knee rescue expert. Today I'm going to kind of jump into your living room and get into your mind a little bit. And if I could do that, I would probably say you're going, you're in your head and you're saying, I cannot take pain pills anymore. Okay.

I just can't do it and I can't. I've got to stop limiting the activities I love like hiking, gardening, playing with grandkids, an active retirement, whatever those things are.
So your, thinking, what are my alternatives to knee replacement surgery? Maybe you're still in the workforce, you're under 65 and you're thinking, I gotta do something besides surgery. So what do you have? 

The Three most common alternatives to TKR 

Basically you have three things.

You have physical therapy and exercise for weight loss.
Two, you have some kind of supplements and three expensive biological treatments.

Now again, if I could go kind of into your brain, I would say that your response to those would, might be something like this. If I say try physical therapy. You'd say, "Michelle, I've tried those. They make my knees hurt more." Fair enough. Supplements. I've tried those, right? I've tried. You know, my cousin recommended this. I took that glucosamine, et Cetera, et cetera. Right? They didn't make that much of a difference. Maybe a little bit for a while, but then, hey, I didn't even know if I was throwing money away.

Third, and maybe you haven't tried these, but you're thinking about it. You’re waiting, maybe expensive biological treatments versus the knee replacement surgery. They're 3 to 5k a knee. Can you really afford that? Maybe that's where you are. If that's where you are, I have a message.

Is your problem really your KNee?

Here's the issue. Your problem is not your knee, okay? Your problem is whole body inflammation. Your problem is aging too fast. Your knees are wearing out. When they look at your knees on an x -ray, they look like the age of a 70 year old and your, let's say only 50 or you're 55 or you're 60 but you still haven't, you not even to retirement yet.

You still should be living an active lifestyle. And what we need to do is we need to lower whole body inflammation. How do we do that? That's the million dollar question. How do we lower whole body inflammation? Well, there isn't one answer to that.

The answer is not, “Here's one thing you can do,” but the answer is a comprehensive program. And that is the key, my friends. Okay? So imagine this, the last 20 years you've spent, eating the Standard American Diet, raising your kids, not getting much sleep, being high stressed because you maybe worked a full time job and you've got a family, right?

Could Decades eating the Standard american diet be hurting my knees?

So you’ve spent the last few decades stressed eating the standard American Diet. If you dug yourself a hole, you feel kinda lousy, right? So here you are in a big hole. Now, the biggest contributor to that hole is you can't keep doing what you're doing because you’re, still digging deeper, you're actively going lower and taking scoops of dirt out by living the way you're living.

So you got to stop and change. You've got to change your diet.
Number one for you, stop consuming the Standard American Diet that puts you at a level now and not going deeper, all right?

Will a comprehensive diet and lifestyle change really help my chronic knee pain?

And then you can, you can add things to that, right? Step by step. So then you can maybe change your lifestyle a little bit. Add that in. Maybe you can add some supplements in, right? And you can see how now we're actually building and getting out of that hole layer by layer, 5% here, 10% here, another 10% over here with adding this, by diet and exercise, physical therapy to strengthen your knee and slowly you're going to be getting back and not all of a sudden, right?

This takes time. All right? But it's worth it because the alternative is the surgery or the expensive biologics. Why wouldn't you try diet and exercise first?

The only reason you wouldn't is because it's not easy, right? But don't let that be you, opting out because it’s hard. Because once you start doing some things and you start seeing some progress, you really get encouraged. You say, “Oh, this is going to work. I am going to get my mobility back.” Okay? So those are the alternatives.

A comprehensive program is what is going to lower the inflammation. Stop thinking that your knee is the problem. It's your diet and your lifestyle, right? And your whole body, and that can be addressed through a comprehensive program. All right, so that's it for today. We'll see you in the next video.

Michelle, PT
Michelle, PT

Michelle Stiles called "the no nonsense" therapist, by her patients, created a company called Cowboy Up Recovery after recognizing the bankruptcy of the present medical model. Too many people regard conventional medical wisdom as gospel, ignoring the subversive influences of Big Pharma and Big Medicine. She believes, Americans in general are being trained from an early age to defer to experts in numerous areas of life and losing the impulses for self-responsibility and self-reliance in the process. Over-diagnosis and over-medicating has become endemic. While thankful for the best miracles of modern medicine, she encourages people of all persuasions to listen to their bodies and seek out answers to maintain not just an absence of disease but optimal health. Her advice is: Cowboy Up, no one cares more about your health than you do.

    4 replies to "Alternatives to Knee Replacement Surgery"

    • Dondi Duffy

      47 y/o female. Had acl tear off bone and repair 30 years ago in gymnastics injury. Never regained full extension. Surgeon says my acl is non-functional. Have never regained the muscle fully after initial atrophy although I am very active. New MRI shows meniscus tear on inside of meniscus (won’t heal) and advanced arthritis. I am 105 lbs at 5’3. Lots of pain and have had two episodes of non-weightbearing pain in the last 4 months. Surgeon recommends scope to cut away the tear. Does not want to do TKR until I am older. For three years I have had stellar diet – NOTHING from a bag, box or bottle. Absolutely no oil, added sugar or flour in anything. Also no meat or dairy of any kind. I love this lifestyle and I am sure I would be a complete wreck without eating healthy. But pain is still a problem. Was previously down to only biking for exercise and now having problems with that. I want to be able to bike and do calisthenics to stay in shape.

      • Michelle, PT

        Hi Dondi,

        Congrats on the A+ diet no doubt that is helping. One thing though you said no oil…remember you need good omega 3’s oily fish 1-2 times a week, olive oil on salads, flax seed in smoothie… whatever. fat is an essential part of the cell membrane.

        Currently, you are suffering from a cartilage tear with some intermittant locking ( the non wbing episodes that you describe) How have you gone about trying to heal? Have you laid off exercises?

        I tore cartilage in my 40’s as well. Here is what I did.
        Sit in an elevated seat at work or in the car so that you do not get a shearing force on the knee up from your heel. It causes aggrevation and limits healing. Do you understand what I mean by this?
        Avoid using it for lifting up stairs/etc, take pressure off it with your gait use cane or limp and do not overtax it
        Do not squat or do severe bending. do not exercise.
        You can walk but as above and only to tolerance.
        it took from 4-6 weeks for mine to heal and I did not have the stellar diet that you have.

        I find that our bodies were meant to heal well on their own if we limit activity and give them a chance to heal.~we just never want to stop what we are doing 🙂

        If you don’t see any progress I would look to some underlying issues causing nutrient deficiencies from a functional medicine standpoint. So just because your diet is great doesn’t mean it is getting to digested and absorbed adequately by the body …this approach might yield some insights.

        I would really try to stay away from the scope. Research shows it is strongly correlated with having to HAVE a TKR and that is what you are trying to avoid.

        Also remember that imaging studies bear little to no relationship to pain experienced. The pain could all be from your cartilage tear and totallly unrelated to any “arthritis.” I just spoke with an orthopedic doc the other day who said the same thing. . He has a patient who is still doing ironman triathlons and has some minimal pain. but looks really bad on x ray, as though he should have a TKR.

        Hope this helps

        • Dondi Duffy

          That is very helpful! I do get omega 3 by supplement and also with daily flax seed and walnuts. I also do not have much omega 6 because I don’t eat meat or dairy so that is not drawing down my omega 3. I follow Joel Furhman on nutrition and I have never had so much energy and clear headed feeling in my life! At 47 I feel 20 again. I started this way of eating to reduce inflammation but have had so many great additional benefits. The problem I have is that the surgeon said that where the cartilage tear exists (shown on MRI), it is on the inside part of the u shape and therefore will not heal. Do you think that is true that some tears in certain places will not heal and therefore need to be cut out? I really need to get back to biking and aerobic exercise because it makes me feel so much better when I stay in shape. I really appreciate your advice.

          • Michelle, PT

            Here is a very good summary of arthroscopy studies and why they are generally not recommended. I would try conservative measures like what I explained; Treat your own knee by Robin Mckenzie; or OP PT clinic rather then surgery.

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