Largest Knee Arthritis X-ray Study Shows Bone Spurs Predict need for Knee Replacement-Maybe…

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knee replacement alternative

In our practice we call knee replacement the surgical amputation of the knee joint with insertion of a prosthesis. Why? It’s a very big surgery with a 1 in 10 chance of serious, life changing complications; and a very good reason for a good knee replacement alternative.  In 2008 alone, there were 17,500 huge complications (including 5,000 deaths) due to knee replacement surgery just in Medicare patients. Despite this, by 2015 1.4 million of these surgeries will be performed annually due to a 45% lifetime risk of knee arthritis. As a result, early detection is important, which is what a recent study sought to better understand. The authors took knee x-rays of more than 500 patients every 5 years.  Women with mild to moderate arthritis on x-rays in their 50’s (KL grade 1 or 2) had about a 50/50 chance of needing a knee replacement 15 years later. Women with no arthritis on x-rays in their 50’s only had about a 1 in 100 chance of needing a knee replacement 15 years later.  Heavier patients were more likely to progress. Other studies have shown that heavier patients also have worse outcomes after knee replacement surgery. While all of this seems to make sense, what was really interesting is that the majority of the women who actually got a knee replacement by year 15 didn’t actually have mild or moderate arthritis at the time the study began-indicating yet again that images like x-rays are a poor surrogate for pain. This last point is very important, as we often see patients who are transfixed by their MRI images as if they were the modern Oracle of Delphi. This study and many others like it show that the pain you experience and what’s seen on images are often likely two different things-so take any x-ray or MRI result with a grain of salt! In addition, don’t forget that about 15% of patients who have their knees replaced still have pain despite the surgery!

Category: Knee, Latest News

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
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Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

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Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

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Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

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Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

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