Each year, more Americans are choosing to undergo total knee replacement surgery than ever before. The surgery involves removing a patient’s deteriorated natural knee and replacing it with an artificial joint. The most common cause of knee problems leading to a total knee replacement is arthritis. Osteoarthritis affects millions of patients and typically gets worse as the patient gets older. The pain gets to a point where the patient can no longer stand it, and he or she elects to undergo a joint replacement procedure. There are other medical conditions that require a total knee replacement, such as sports injury or a serious accident, such as a fall.
While most of these surgeries go according to plan, and the artificial knee works as intended for many years to come, not every patient is so lucky. As our Boston knee replacement injury lawyers have seen, in many cases, some frequently used artificial knees have proven to be defectively designed medical devices, which have failed, broken loose, or caused other serious personal injury.
According to a recent news feature from HCP Live, nearly 40 percent of women between ages 60 and 70 and nearly a quarter of men that age experience arthritis pain so severe they choose to undergo total knee replacement surgery. It is estimated this is an industry that earns surgeons and manufacturers of artificial knees around $5 billion each year.
However, some surgeons consider total knee replacement surgery to be a last resort instead of a first option. Other less invasive treatments include steroid injections into the knee, anti-inflammatory medications, painkillers, and other similar treatments. While these treatments are not as invasive as total knee replacement therapy, most patients who try these techniques later decide the pain is too much to handle and decide to have their surgeon implant an artificial knee.
One treatment, which is less invasive and may actually be effective, is known as radiofrequency ablation (RFA). A newer form of RFA is known as cooled RFA. As the article describes, ablatement is a process of cutting or severing individual nerves to control pain. Cooled RFA studies are being conducted, mostly outside the United States, and they have yielded promising results. However, there is still a lot of research that must be performed before this will become a readily available treatment option in the United States.
One of the main problems with the technique is doctors and researchers do not all agree on which specific nerves to target for nerve ablatement. If enough nerves are not targeted, pain will not be effectively reduced, and a further treatment may be needed. Not surprisingly, insurance companies are not desirous of having to pay for second or subsequent procedures, though these costs are far less than a total knee replacement, so they are interested in this new procedure. On the other hand, if too many nerves are treated, there can be other complications, and the area of treatment may be wide enough to damage bone and other surrounding tissue.
Call the Boston Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
Knee Pain: Could Interventions Be the Alternative to Total Knee Replacement? , Feb. 27, 2015, HCP Live
More Blog Entries:
Knee Reconstruction Market to Exceed $5 Billion by 2020, June 17, 2014, Boston Actos Injury Lawyer Blog