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Q: Is there anything I can do to delay the need for knee replacement surgery?

Joint pain can have a major impact on people's quality of life, limiting their ability to exercise, enjoy activities, and even work. While knee replacement can take care of the problem, there are also many nonsurgical options you can try which may help you postpone the need for surgery or even avoid it altogether.

Physical therapy and proper exercise can help you strengthen the muscles that support and protect the injured joint, building them up to serve almost like shock absorbers for your knee. Wearing a knee brace can give you extra support during exercise and physical activity. Since obesity is also a major contributor to joint pain, losing weight can also make a huge difference and extend the "life" of your knee. Even losing 10 or 15 pounds can help take the pressure off.

For temporary relief, injections of a corticosteroid directly into the knee can reduce swelling, while injections of hyaluronic acid can help lubricate the joint. Finally, medications like ibuprofen can reduce inflammation and ease pain.

If these nonsurgical treatments don't help, or if pain returns over time, a partial or total knee replacement can provide lasting results, eliminating pain and restoring mobility.

Warren V. Ayers, MD

Orthopedic surgery

Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic
85 Maui Lani Parkway
Wailuku, HI 96793