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The University of Vermont Medical Center offers the complete range of knee pain treatment options, from robotic surgery to minimally invasive surgery and even non-surgical techniques, where possible. We will partner with you to develop the treatment plan that works best for your condition.
Non-Surgical Treatments for Knee Pain
Early non-surgical treatments can help you avoid and reduce knee pain and disability. They can also slow progression of your condition.
An important first step for many patients is to modify your lifestyle. Taking steps to avoid high-impact activities can be helpful. For example:
- Switch from running or jumping exercises to swimming or cycling
- Minimize activities that aggravate the condition, such as climbing stairs
- Lose weight if you are overweight
- Rest your knee from overuse
Physical Therapy and Activity
Our highly skilled physical therapists work closely with you to help increase your joint's range of motion and strengthen muscles. Physical therapy and activity can reduce your knee pain and improve its functioning. Learn more about the UVM Medical Center Physical Therapy team.
Patients also benefit from using supportive devices such as a cane, energy-absorbing shoes or inserts, or a brace or knee sleeve, which may help relieve the stress and strain on your joints.
Additional methods may be recommended to relieve knee pain and improve functioning. These can include:
- Applying heat or ice
- Doing water exercises
- Using liniments
- Using elastic bandages
Medication can be a very effective option for treating knee pain. At UVM Medical Center, we offer the full range of medical therapies and the latest medicines available to treat your condition.
Anti-inflammatory and Pain Medicines
Many patients use over-the-counter medications to help control pain and inflammation in the joints. These include:
- Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen to reduce inflammation
- Acetaminophen to control pain
This type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug may be prescribed if your knee pain is moderate to severe Cortisone injections. This treatment involves injecting powerful anti-inflammatory medicines into your joint to temporarily relieve pain and swelling.
A special fluid is injected into the joint to lubricate it and make it easier to move. The fluid is a concentrate of hyaluronic acid, made from a molecule found in the joints of the body. Viscosupplementation is most effective if you have early arthritis, with mild to moderate symptoms.
Surgery for Knee Pain
When non-surgical treatments are not successful, an orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery to treat your knee pain. As a university hospital, we are highly trained and experienced in the latest surgical techniques.
Arthroscopic Knee Surgery
UVM Medical Center surgeons perform arthroscopic knee surgery - a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure - to help them see inside your joint to diagnose and treat your disorder.
The procedure works by inserting a tiny camera through a small incision. The camera provides a clear view of the inside of the knee joint.
The view inside the joint is transmitted via fiber optic technology to a television monitor. Your orthopedic surgeon then inserts surgical instruments through other small incisions to perform more specific tasks, including:
Loose Body Removal
Removing loose pieces of cartilage that float within the joint space. These pieces can become caught within the joint during movement.
Taking a sample of the synovial membrane. This is the tissue that lines a joint. The biopsy can help diagnose certain disorders or infections.
Meniscal Tear Surgery
Repairing a torn meniscus (a C-shaped piece of cartilage that cushions the knee).
Cartilage Tear Surgery
Repairing torn cartilage in the knee.
Knee Restoration Surgery
In some cases, your joint may be in good enough condition that it does not need to be replaced. Instead, the bones in your knee can be repositioned to reduce your pain. At UVM Medical Center, we work with you to determine whether a joint restoration method may be the right fit. These methods include:
- Shift weight from damaged cartilage area to a healthy area
- Restore knee function
- Reduce osteoarthritis pain
- Delay the need for joint replacement surger
- Usually recommended for younger patients with early arthritis
This procedure involves cutting or realigning the bones of the knee. Goals of the procedure include:
This method helps improve your joint function by restoring damaged cartilage. At UVM Medical Center, we use the latest surgical techniques designed to stimulate the growth of new cartilage. These procedures can relieve pain and allow better function of your knee; they can also help delay or prevent arthritis.
OATS (Osteochondral Autograft Transfer System)
In this procedure, healthy cartilage tissue and underlying bone are transferred from a non-weight bearing part of your knee to another area. They are used as a plug to seal defects or damaged areas in the cartilage. The procedure can be done arthroscopically.
ACI (Autologous Chondrocyte Implant)
With this method, UVM Medical Center surgeons remove healthy cartilage tissue from a non-weight bearing area of the knee, using arthroscopy. The healthy cartilage cells, or chondrocytes, are sent to a laboratory, to grow and multiply. Surgeons then implant these newly grown cells in the damaged area of your knee.
Knee Replacement Surgery
UVM Medical Center's orthopedic surgeon team has more than 50 years of combined experience in knee replacement surgery. Our surgeons perform hundreds of these surgeries each year.
We offer the latest technology for active knee patients: the Smith & Nephew LEGION Cruciate Retaining Knee implant with FDA-cleared VERILAST Knee Technology. This implant is an innovative solution with the potential to double the life of traditional knee implants to 30 years, under normal conditions. We also combine VERILAST Technology with Smith & Nephew's VISIONAIRE custom-fit surgical instrumentation system for knee replacement surgery. We have been using VISIONAIRE technology since 2009 to reduce anesthesia time, lower the risk of infection, reduce the risk of implant misalignment, reduce soft tissue and muscle damage, and lessen pain during the recovery process.
Together, the VERILAST and VISIONAIRE technologies offer patients a longer-lasting, more natural feeling knee joint with a shorter recovery period than traditional knee joint replacement options.
One of the latest developments in knee replacement surgery is robotic surgery which uses computer-assisted navigation to position the knee replacement in the optimal position.
With this method, we can see an interactive display of the lines, angles and measurements needed to position the knee implant. The computer tracks the exact position of your knee joint and the surgical instruments at all times.
As a result, the UVM Medical Center orthopedic surgeon can align and orient your knee implant with the greatest possible precision. This access to real-time, computer-guided accuracy is a significant breakthrough in knee replacement surgery.
With these tools, we have the potential to achieve better outcomes such as:
- Lower risk of post-operative dislocation
- Improved joint stability
- Best possible range of motion
- Precise alignment and placement of the implant may also lead to extended lifespan for your implant and prevention of future corrective surgeries
Minimally Invasive and Small Incision Knee Replacement Surgery
At UVM Medical Center, we offer the latest, minimally invasive techniques for total knee replacement. These techniques can make a big difference in your life and offer many benefits for those who qualify.
This type of surgery is most often recommended for patients who are young, healthy and motivated to have a quick recovery.