If arthritis is causing you to have chronic knee pain, you may think the only way to get permanent relief is with a knee replacement. That's not necessarily true if a bone defect known as chronic bone marrow edema (BME) is the source of your discomfort.
|by Carl Becker, MD, Lancaster General Health Orthopedic Center
Usually, we first try to relieve the pain of arthritic knees with conservative therapies, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and knee braces. But if you have arthritis and BME, which is a bone microfracture, nonsurgical therapies may not be enough.
Until now, patients with persistent pain usually opted for a knee replacement. In fact, patients with BME and arthritis were more likely to have a knee replacement within three years than patients who had arthritis but no BME, according to a study published in Skeletal Radiology in 2008.
Now, we can offer you a treatment that provides pain relief while preserving your joint. Subchondroplasty™ is a minimally invasive procedure typically performed in an outpatient setting, so you can usually go home the same day.
How does it work? After an MRI confirms the presence of BME, we’ll fill in the bone defect with a bone substitute, which will relieve the pain. Initial studies report a high success rate, and recovery is shorter than for a knee replacement.
The advantage of Subchondroplasty is that it doesn’t close the door on future treatment options. Should you eventually need a knee replacement for your arthritis, you can have it.
Carl Becker, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist who practices with Argires, Becker and Westphal Group. He is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson University and is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the Pennsylvania Orthopedic Society. He specializes in arthroscopic and reconstructive surgery of the shoulder, hip and knee.