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WATCH: Abington Health Chat Highlights on How to Treat Knee Pain

On Tuesday Dr. Andrew Star, medical director of Abington Health’s Orthopedic and Spine Institute answered viewer’s live questions and gave advice about knee pain. He discussed both conservative and surgical treatments for knee pain as well as MAKOplasty partial knee replacement surgery. Lu Ann Cahn, director of Career Services at Temple University’s School of Media and Communications moderated the chat. In case you missed it, here are the treating knee pain health chat highlights.

What are the nonsurgical options for treating knee pain?

This is the first question anyone should ask, Dr. Star said. Before surgery patients should try alternative options like physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and tendons around the joint, supportive braces with or without hinges, anti-inflammatory medications, and using a cane or a walking stick. “Many times patients can get years of relief, continue to run, continuing to play sports, but modifying the activities a little bit to control pain.

What is the difference between a standard knee replacement and MAKOplasty?

Total knee replacement is a procedure done about 1 million times a year and the complete knee is replaced. The femur and the tibia, which are the upper and lower leg bones, get completely resurfaced. “We put a metal piece on the top, and a piece of plastic in between that acts like meniscus cartilage,” Dr Star said. Most times the kneecap is resurfaced too, so there are no longer any parts of the joint that are touching, it’s all been separated by plastic and metal.

Current MAKOplasty partial knee replacement attacks one of these areas of the knee, such as the inner knee joint. The procedure is done with a robotic arm. A partial knee replacement can be done without MAKOplasty, but the advantage of MAKOplasty is that you have a smaller incision and it’s less invasive.

“In all partial knee replacements, and I emphasize this with my patients, you save every ligament.” Dr. Star said. The knee feels more natural and functions like it’s supposed to. MAKOplasty patients often go home the next day after surgery.

Should you wait as long as possible to get knee replacement surgery?

There are many factors that go into deciding when to replace a knee. Dr. Star says to think about the activities you do—if you can’t go up the stairs, go to the mall, go hiking, or do other activities you like or need to do, your knee pain may be affecting your quality of life enough to get surgery.

“The question I always ask is what have you stopped doing?” Dr. Star said. “The only thing I can tell you is what it’s like to go through surgery and whether or not you have arthritis. What I can’t tell you is when it’s time.” It can be different for everybody.

What are the key takeaways from this chat?

Dr. Star said that one of the key takeaways is to be your own advocate. If something hurts, is bothering you, consistent, or stopping you from doing what you want to do, talk to your primary care doctor or a specialist if needed. He added that all medicine is moving in the direction of less invasive, higher technology to make procedures more accurate and successful so patients can be less concerned.

“I think those are my two messages, be your own advocate and trust that technology is going to help us get better answers and better solutions as we go forward into the future,” Dr. Star said.

Be sure to tune into the next Health Chat on getting pregnant after age 35 on May 4th with Dr. Mara Thur, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Abington Health. Again, the chat will be moderated Lu Ann Cahn, director of Career Services at Temple University’s School of Media and Communications. Register and ask your confidential questions ahead of time here.