Which treatments delay knee surgery?

Written by: Mr Jonathan Walczak
Published: | Updated: 17/11/2020
Edited by: Laura Burgess

If you are looking to delay knee replacement surgery for your arthritis for a few years, a specialist can recommend alternative treatments to consider in the meantime that help with pain relief. We spoke to one of our expert orthopaedic surgeons Mr Jonathan Walczak about the non-surgical treatments of knee arthritis and just how long you can delay knee surgery.

A man uses a dumbell to exercise, putting pressure on his knees.

Why would some people want to delay knee surgery?

Even the most successful knee surgery carries a small risk although it is much lower than in the past decades. Keyhole surgery (or arthroscopy) can increase the risk of arthritis slightly over 15 years and a knee replacement is not a normal knee.

Having said that, however, over 90% of patients are very happy with a knee replacement and modern designs will last over 20 years before wearing out.

What types of treatments are available to delay knee surgery?

The most powerful treatments are related to lifestyle changes and include weight loss, exercise and physiotherapy, but there are numerous treatments that I can provide. These range from:

  • Steroid injections
  • Lubricant injections (called viscosupplementation)
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapies
  • Wearing specialised off-loading braces

What surgical procedures do you offer for knee arthritis?

I perform keyhole surgery to trim cartilage, repair ligaments and deal with arthritis via smoothing off the worn joint (chondroplasty) or drilling into the marrow to use the body’s own stem cells to repair arthritis (micro-fracture).

What kind of lifestyle changes should one make?

Weight loss is the most powerful, every kilogram lost takes an equivalent of 10 kilograms off the knee.

Are there any particular exercises which help relieve knee pain?

The best exercises to help relieve symptoms of knee pain include cycling, cross-training and swimming. Squats and lunges are also most useful.

How long can you delay knee surgery?

This is variable, but at best one can delay a knee replacement for five years in selected cases.

When is knee surgery the only option?

Usually when there is severe pain with day and night, when most activities are difficult and when other treatments have been tried and failed.

If you would like to discuss your knee pain with Mr Walczak, you can book an appointment to see him via his Top Doctor’s profile here. Can’t make it in person? Mr Walczak is also available for a video call using our eConsultation tool, available on his profile too.

By Mr Jonathan Walczak
Orthopaedic surgery

Mr Jonathan Walczak is a highly experienced consultant orthopaedic and trauma surgeon, with private clinics at BMI Chelsfield Park Hospital, BMI The Sloane Hospital, BMI Shirley Oaks and KIMS Hospital in Kent. Mr Walczak specialises in hip and knee replacements, keyhole knee surgery, sports injuries, anterior cruciate ligament repair and bursitis. He is also experienced in the management of knee arthritis. A keen runner and cyclist, he understands the needs of athletes and is committed to helping people of all abilities to return to sports and physical activity where possible.

Mr Walczak trained at Guy's Hospital Medical School from 1981-1987. His postgraduate training included a specialist training fellowship in hip surgery. He has held the post of consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon at Bromley NHS Trust since 1999 and is now employed by Kings College NHS Trust, working at Farnborough, Beckenham and Orpington Hospitals.

His special interests are lower limb joint replacement including minimal access hip and knee replacements. He has developed a minimal access approach to the hip which has been used in over 1000 cases of hip replacement. The use of this approach has drastically reduced the need for blood transfusions in hip replacement surgery to less than 1 in 8 patients.

Mr Walczak is keen to treat both his private and NHS patients promptly with a very patient-focused approach. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and a member of the British Orthopaedic Association.

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