Knee osteoarthritis symptoms seem to be on the increase, which means that surgery for knee replacements is also on the rise.
In our office, we do everything we can to help patients avoid surgery for knee pain, and we do it well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had patients come in thinking that they were going to need knee surgery only to find out that the majority of their symptoms were soft-tissue related and resolved in a short period of time. I’ve written before about how the number of knee replacement surgeries are increasing (expected to increase 700% by 2030), but there is not a corresponding increase in knee osteoarthritis symptoms found on X-rays. This article can be read by clicking here.
All of that being said, not every knee pain patient that walks through our door is going to respond well enough to avoid knee replacement surgery. Luckily, even if a patient still ends up having surgery, most of the evidence suggests that the stronger and healthier the knee is going into surgery, the better the outcomes are going to be. So basically, there is no downside to seeing a physician who is well-versed in soft tissue techniques first.
But what can you do after the surgery to improve your outcome? Besides, of course, sticking with your rehab. Turns out, there is something simple to do.
This particular article looked at what happened with 28 patients undergoing knee replacement surgery and were given either an amino acid supplement (20 grams, twice per day in between meals) or a placebo starting a week before the surgery up until 2 weeks after the surgery. The supplements were taken 1 hour after the rehab sessions. Here’s the details:
- Quadriceps strength dropped 14.3% by 2 weeks after surgery but only 3.4% for the amino acid group.
- The benefits were even greater by 6 weeks (placebo lost 18.4% versus only 6.2% for the amino acid group).
- Even better, the amino acid supplement also protected quadriceps strength in the NON-replaced knee.
- Hamstring and adductor muscles of both extremities legs were also stronger in the amino acid group.
- Functional mobility tests were performed better at 2 and 6 weeks after surgery with the amino acid group, although most of this was due to the stronger quadriceps.
Specifically, the amino acid supplement consisted of leucine, phenylalanine, lysine, threonine, valine, histidine, isoleucine and methionine, listed here in the highest to lowest amounts in the supplement. This should be pretty easy to mimic (the whey protein we sell in our office would match this and much more with two servings), but ALWAYS look at the label of an amino acid supplement, especially when used as a powdered drink mix, to avoid any and all artificial sweeteners. Most of them have it.
Overall, this is a very simple and inexpensive approach to drastically improving the outcomes when you have your knee replacement surgery. But, as I mentioned, please make sure you seek a physician well versed in soft tissue techniques (like Graston Technique, ART, NMR or Fascial Manipulation) before you even consider going under the knife.