5 Non-Surgical Options You Must Consider for Your Joint Pain

Mar 1 09:39 2011 Michael Krinsky Print This Article

According to the 2006 National Health Interview Survey, some 30% of adults experience joint pain. If you are one of the millions of Americans suffering from joint pain, you must educate yourself on your treatment options.

5 Non-Surgical Options

Member: American Orthopaedic Society of Sports Medicine American College of Sports Medicine

You Must Consider

for Your Joint Pain from Michael B. Krinsky,Guest Posting M.D., M.C.


According to the 2006 National Health Interview Survey, some 30% of adults experience joint pain. Of those responding to the survey, 18% reported knee pain, followed by 9% reporting pain in the shoulders, 7% in the fingers, and 7% in the hips. There are several causes for joint pain such as osteoarthritis, injury, prolonged abnormal posture, or repetitive motion. If you are one of the millions of Americans suffering from joint pain, you must educate yourself on your treatment options.


Unless your injury is abrupt and severe, orthopedic surgery should only be considered after all other non-surgical options have been pursued without success. Many symptoms of joint pain develop over time and are therefore less likely to receive the attention they need early enough. If you’re starting to experience discomfort in your joints, I have compiled a list of the top five options you must know about before considering orthopedic surgery.


Assessing the situation Before an individual can effectively evaluate all of the options for treating joint pain, an accurate assessment of the scenario must be made. Providing an answer to the following eight questions will help determine which approach is best suited for you.


  1. Do you experience pain while performing basic everyday activities?
  2.  Is your joint discomfort restricting your participation in the activities you enjoy or active daily living?
  3. Are you unable to walk without the interference of pain?
  4. Are you unable to sleep due to your joint pain?
  5. Has your joint pain forced you to miss any important events that you would otherwise have attended (e.g., travelling, attending a wedding or religious service, and/or visiting family members)?
  6. Do you experience joint pain more than one day per week?
  7. Would you classify your pain as mild or more significant?
  8. Are non-prescription pain medications no longer effective?


If your answer was “yes” to more than three of the questions listed above, you should discuss treatment options with me. You might be a qualified candidate for joint replacement surgery. If your answer was “no” to more than four of these questions, you should be able to manage your joint pain though combined methods such as those listed below. I can suggest the most appropriate approach for your specific condition.


Treatments for joint pain will typically focus on methods for improving mobility and managing discomfort. Those treatments that tend to be most successful utilize a combination of techniques customized to an individual’s overall health, needs, and lifestyle. Prior to initiating any treatment strategy, patients should review the most reasonable options with their physicians in order to identify the optimal course of action for them. The five non-surgical treatment options you must consider are listed below.


1) Physical therapy and exercise Physical therapy and light exercise offer one of the most effective and least expensive treatments for joint pain. There are several benefits that come with this approach, such as…

  • an improvement in one’s general outlook and mood,
  • a noticeable reduction in pain,
  • an increase in joint flexibility,
  • and greater circulation and cardiopulmonary fitness.


Be careful, however, not to over-exert yourself and make the joint pain worse. If physical therapy and light exercise do not lead to an improvement within the first few days, discontinue these activities immediately. My staff and I are professionally educated and trained to be able to help you determine the appropriate level of exertion without aggravating the joint.


2) Weight management Excessive weight is a lead contributor to joint pain, especially in the hips, knees, and weight bearing joints. Reducing one’s body weight to a more desirable point will often aid in the alleviation of pain as well as improve a joint’s function. Sustainable weight loss is best achieved by means of a healthy diet and regular exercise. The resulting reduction in stress on the joints will safeguard against further injury.


3) Nontraditional strategies Provided that a patient’s condition is not overly severe, several methods exist for relieving pain and rigidity without using drugs or resorting to surgery. Such approaches include warm towels or baths, heated pools, and hot packs. In some instances, cold packs (a bag of ice or frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel). Alternating between hot and cold at regular intervals can also help to alleviate joint pain.


4) Medicines Medicines such as acetaminophen, topical creams, mild narcotics, corticosteroids and NSAIDS are regularly administered to mitigate the pain and inflammation of joints. A pharmaceutical approach can only deliver a short-term reprieve from joint pain, therefore it should not be implemented as permanent pain management. Drugs also fail to provide protection against additional joint damage.


5) Rest Sometimes taking no action is the best choice of all. Often times sports injuries can heal over time as long as you don’t push yourself to get back into the action too soon.  Of course, the path of ‘non-action’ can be the most difficult to pursue as many athletes are by nature highly energetic and don’t like sitting still for long. If possible, take one to two weeks off from the activities that are aggravating your joint pain. During your time off, apply ice to the joint at regular intervals.


You may even want to try a combination of some or all of the non-surgical approaches. Most importantly, call us as soon as you notice the discomfort exceeding your normal level of fatigue from exertion. We can help you assess which options make the most sense given your specific situation.


If none of the above work… Joint replacement (partial or total) is an option to be considered by those patients who are no longer receiving pain relief from nonsurgical approaches mentioned above. The replacement or reconstruction of a joint can often result in the complete elimination of pain as well as a total restoration of movement.


Unfortunately, a lot of people today put off joint replacement due to bad information, fear, or a just a simple lack of knowledge regarding the variety alternative treatments. Don’t let this be your excuse! There is no good reason for anyone to endure unnecessary physical pain and stiffness that undermine virtually every area of everyday life. Many types of joint pain are degenerative, meaning that any pain and limited mobility from which you may now be suffering will most probably get worse in the long run.


Dedicated to getting you back in the game!

Dr. K


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About Article Author

Michael Krinsky
Michael Krinsky

"Dr. K" has been specializing in hip replacement surgery, knee replacement surgery, and rotator cuff surgery in the greater East Bay area for over thirty years. Whatever your situation is, he is committed to helping you overcome your joint pain and get back to your life. For more details regarding sports medicine or orthopedic surgery, please feel free to contact his office directly by phone at (888) 478-5688.

Michael B. Krinsky, M.D., M.C.

20990 Redwood Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546



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