Joint Pain Doesn’t Always Mean Surgery is Needed

woman exercising

If you experience hip pain, knee pain, or other joint pain, you may automatically think you will need joint replacement surgery sometime in the future.

But this is not always the case.

Lifestyle modifications and pain management treatments may ease your pain and allow you to postpone or even avoid surgery altogether. 

Causes of Joint Pain and When to Seek Care

There are many of causes of joint pain, including aging, wear and tear, arthritis, fibromyalgia, injury and illness. Patients sometimes experience pain after a joint replacement, and this can be treated.

If your pain is caused by an injury or a soft tissue condition like tendonitis or bursitis, it may get better on its own with time or physical therapy. 

However, if you are experiencing persistent pain, talk with your primary care physician about seeing a specialist, like a pain management specialist, who can investigate your pain and help you consider treatment options that would be best for you. Delaying care can sometimes cause additional damage to your joints and unnecessary limitations to your lifestyle. 

Pain Management Specialists

A pain management physician has special training in pain medicine and in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating all types of pain. They will work with you on the best options to help you deal with your joint pain. Sometimes fairly simple modifications may be all that is needed, such as:

  • Lose weight to reduce the burden on joints
  • Engage in no- to low-impact exercise activities like swimming and cycling
  • Be attuned to activities that cause joint pain (gardening, walking for long periods of time) and pace yourself or limit those activities. Talk to your doctor to better understand your specific limitations.
  • Stretch first thing in the morning to increase your range of motion and mobility.
  • At the advice of your doctor, consider physical therapy to learn exercises that can strengthen muscles around joints to preserve joint health, increase range of motion, and reduce inflammation.
  • Talk with your doctor about an anti-inflammation diet and supplements

A Look at Pain and Osteoarthritis

A lot of joint pain is caused by osteoarthritis, a natural part of aging that can result in pain and stiffness. It is the most common form of arthritis and can quickly affect your mobility when it impacts your hips or knees.

While there is no way to reverse arthritis, there are treatments that can keep you more comfortable and active—topical creams, medications, injections, physical therapy, and removing fluid build-up, to name a few.

Treatments Performed by Pain Management Providers

If you have major joint pain in your knee, hip or shoulder, the Pain Management specialists at LG Health Physicians Pain Management can perform a variety of procedures to help reduce or eliminate your pain, including:

  • Steroid injections, guided by ultrasound, deliver medicines like cortisone directly to the affected joint with high levels of accuracy and safety
  • Joint drainage (effusion) removes excess fluid around the joint
  • Nerve blocks involve injecting medicines that block pain from specific nerves
  • Nerve stimulation sends electrical pulses through the skin to start your body's own pain killers
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) procedures use an electrical current produced by a radio wave to heat up a small area of nerve tissue, decreasing pain signals 

After evaluation, if your pain management specialist feels you need surgery or other treatment, they will refer you to an orthopedic surgeon or other specialist.

Pain Management Treatment Just For You

Pain management isn’t one size fits all. If you are having a lot of joint pain and not sure what to do next, talk with your primary care physician or our Pain Management team to help discover a pathway that makes the most sense for you and your personal wishes. 

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Daniel Sandusky, MD

Daniel Sandusky, MD, is a pain management specialist with LG Health Physicians Pain Management. Dr. Sandusky is a graduate of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. He served residencies at Reading Hospital and UPMC Presbyterian and a fellowship at UPMC Presbyterian. Dr. Sandusky is dual board certified in pain management and anesthesiology and specializes in interventional procedures, medication management, and coordination of multidisciplinary care for complex pain conditions.

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The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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