By the time most senior citizens become eligible for Medicare coverage at the age of 65, they’ll have experienced some type of joint pain. Treatment for joint pain ranges anywhere from conservative care to the highly invasive surgical procedures.
Here we will discuss alternative treatment options for those suffering from knee pain that want to avoid knee replacement surgery.
Causes of Knee Pain
Arthritis pain is one of the most common diseases for elderly patients.There are many types of arthritis however, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common with millions of seniors being affected over the age of 65.
Since osteoarthritis is considered a degenerative disease, the arthritis symptoms and condition itself will worsen as you age. So what is osteoarthritis you ask? Osteoarthritis is when cartilage (the tissue that pads the bones inside joint) begins to deteriorate and wear away.
Most arthritis pain is chronic with symptoms of pain lasting for many years. And while osteoarthritis can affect all joints in the body, the most common area affected is the knee.
Common symptoms of osteoarthritis is the standard joint pain and stiffness. There are other signs to look out for such as swelling, tenderness to the affected area, decreased range of motion and warmth and redness at the pain site. Activity can be severely impacted due to discomfort so seeking treatment is common for pain relief.
What To Do If You Have these Conditions?
So what can you do to treat this type of pain you ask? Consult with either an orthopedic physician who may try conservative care but may also recommend surgery. Another option is seeking treatment with an interventional pain management physician.
In pain management their goal is to provide any and all conservative treatment options, mainly injection based therapy, or interventional treatment, for management of the symptoms your specific condition is causing to avoid surgical intervention.
Why Avoid Surgical Intervention?
In some cases, surgery is considered medically necessary. That is only something you and your orthopedic surgeon can determine, but for most, this as a very last resort for many reasons.
With any surgery comes the downtime in which is required to heal as well as the rehabilitation period which can be painful in itself.
There is no guarantee of relief with any surgery and unless an orthopedic surgeon can provide you with a guarantee of significant and lasting relief, you want to avoid at all costs. Additionally, with any surgery, there comes risks and potential complications.
As a whole, most physicians will advise you to exhaust all conservative treatment options prior to opting for an invasive surgical procedure, especially a large surgery like a knee replacement.
Conservative Care for the Knee to Avoid Surgery
- Physical Therapy: is rehabilitative health in which manual and therapeutic modalities are used to improve the condition. With the knee specifically, exercises are given to improve strength in the surrounding muscles which can help improve stability in the weakened joint and improve range of motion.
- Knee bracing: helps to provide stability and prevent further wear and tear to the affected joint.Simply wearing the brace will allow the joint to maintain function and the patient to remain active.
- Cortisone injections: when injected directly into the knee joint, cortisone can help decrease inflammation and fluid buildup which in turn decrease a person’s pain.
- Genicular Nerve Blocks: a diagnostic procedure in which a local anesthetic is injected around the genicular nerves (nerves that transmit pain affecting the knee). If the patient receives temporary relief they are a candidate for a bigger procedure called a Genicular Nerve Ablation. This procedure can also be done therapeutically with a local anesthetic and cortisone mixture that can provide longer lasting relief.
- Genicular Nerve Ablation: when the patient has had successful results with a genicular nerve block they are considered a candidate for a genicular nerve ablation. The ablation cauterizes the genicular nerves which cause the pain providing anywhere from 6-12 months worth of pain relief before the nerve regenerates.
- Viscosupplementation: when the knee is bone on bone, a natural supplementation derived from a roosters comb, called hyaluronic acid, can be injected to provide cushioning. It acts like a lubricant preventing the bones from rubbing together and in turn decreases pain.
- Synvisc: stem cells are formed at birth and are unique in that they can change into other types of cells found throughout the body. The cells then regenerate and help the other cells that are vital to producing the tendons, ligaments, bones and joints throughout the body. When injected into the of the knee it enhances the natural repair of the injured joint and surrounding tissues.
Medicare Covered Alternatives to Knee Replacement
All of the above treatments, with the exception of Synvisc injections, are covered under your Medicare Part B benefits. Per the typical Medicare guidelines the therapy, durable medical equipment (DME) and injections are covered at 80%.
In some cases, DME will require prior authorization but in most cases a RX from your medical provider will suffice.
Different injections have different costs in which you can ask your medical provider what the Medicare allowables are for each procedure.
As far as Synvisc goes, this will be considered an out of pocket procedure as the FDA has not yet approved the treatments for interventional pain management.
Why a Medicare Supplement Plan is Beneficial for Those with Knee Pain
SInce Medicare will only cover outpatient procedures at 80% this leaves the Medicare beneficiary responsible to pay the remaining 20% not covered by Traditional Medicare.
By obtaining a Medicare Supplement Plan, it can help pay the remainder of the coinsurance, copayments and deductibles associated with costs not covered by your straight Medicare.
Call us or fill out our online form to compare rates. One of our licensed insurance agents can assist you today. By obtaining a Supplement Plan to work alongside your Traditional Medicare benefits you can be the holder of the best comprehensive health insurance.