How to Know When You’re Wasting Money On knee Pain Treatments

Knee Surgery

Knee Surgery

Did you know almost 40% of the U.S. population over the age of 45 suffers from some degree of knee osteoarthritis? This knee pain is one of the leading causes of disability?

It’s also something we treat daily in our clinic.

Not all knee pain is the same nor do people respond to the same treatment. If you have knee pain you know this and are probably frustrated by this. The most common type of knee pain is arthritis, called osteoarthritis. This is when the soft shock-absorbing tissue at the end of bones called cartilage is breaking down and now exposing bone. This is why you hear docs, friends, aunts, and uncles describe knees as “bone on bone”.

When people are told this by their doctor they often feel hopeless about getting any relief unless they get their knee replaced.

And that is NOT TRUE. At a minimum, it’s not accurate.

There are several treatment options that can be done.

Here is a list of the LEAST effective and expensive treatment options for knee osteoarthritis that are a waste of money and time based on a study by Dr. Nicholas Bedard.

  • Hyaluronic Acid injection
  • Steroid Injections
  • Knee Braces
  • Special shoe insoles
  • Opioid drugs (not Tramadol)
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements
  • Topical Creams
  • Tylenol
  • Surgery to “clean up the knee”

This study reported in 2017, after reviewing the cost of treatments for patients with knee OA from 2008-2015 (more than 86,000 patients), found that all the least effective treatments performed on patients contributed to above treatments that are found to be not effective contributed to 29% of the total cost for treating knee osteoarthritis. The total bill for these treatments was $12,638,967.92.

11% of the total costs for treatment for patients with knee OA were with treatments shown to be effective. Namely physical therapy, NSAIDs, and tramadol.

After reading this article I asked myself, “Why do providers recommend treatment options that are less effective and more costly?”

However, the answer is not so simple. It’s because the doctors want to make money? The patient wants to take the easy way out but doesn’t want to take pills?

Everyone has different levels of preference and I hope providers and knee pain suffers are able to have a conversation about what fits best.

My concern is people, and frankly, providers, have a growing difficulty with the inconsistency in the types of physical therapy models that exist.

Is this patient going to a physical therapy place that does very little hands-on treatment and merely hands them a sheet of generic and standard exercises for knee OA and leaves them alone?
I know that would be my concern. That is what I hear on the phone when I talk to patients about whether they have tried PT in the past and that is the description of the experience.

Firstly, the reason physical therapy is so effective in treating knee osteoarthritis is that they are trained to identify what muscles are weak and tight causing increased tension across the knee. They also know a series of treatments including soft tissue work, stretching, joint mobilization. As well as specific exercises to address that weakness that leads to healthier knees with less pain, more stability, and confidence you can return to an active lifestyle.

Click Here To Download Your Free Knee Pain Guide
Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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