If you’re having knee problems such as chronic pain and limited mobility, you may be considering knee replacement surgery. While it is a popular option – over 600,000 knee replacements are done every year in the United States – it shouldn’t be your first choice. Before committing to the expense and downtime of knee replacement surgery, talk to your doctor about less invasive options that may relieve your pain and get you moving again.
The Real Cost of Knee Replacement Surgery
The cost of surgery to replace your damaged knee joint won’t be just the price of the operation itself. Because this is an invasive procedure with significant manipulation of the joint and complete replacement of the cartilage, it’s a lengthy process with the possibility of complications. You will also be unable to work or drive for anywhere from three to six weeks if the surgery goes well, meaning you’ll lose income for that period.
If you have insurance, a total knee replacement may be covered, but only if the damage to your knee is severe and you’ve exhausted all other options. You will be responsible for any deductible on your plan. If you don’t have insurance, the cost could run to over $50,000. You also need to factor in the price of lost wages. For some people, a few months without pay isn’t an issue. For others, it could be catastrophic.
If there are complications such as infection, excessive swelling, or a problem with the implant, time off and expenses can quickly mount.
Alternatives to Knee Replacement
Knee pain and limited range of movement can be treated in other ways that may work better for you. One of the alternatives to knee replacement that’s recently been in the news is a new treatment that’s minimally invasive and highly effective. Stem cell injections are now being used to treat the wear and tear in knee joints without undergoing surgery. There are several advantages to stem cell treatment. It doesn’t require surgery or an incision, so you’re less likely to develop an infection or complications.
Perhaps most important is the ease and quick recovery time associated with stem cell treatments. Rather than having to cut into the knee and replace the damaged joint, stem cell injections encourage the body to heal itself, regrowing your body’s own cartilage. After stem cell injections, most people return to work in one or two days, so they don’t miss out on crucial income. You also avoid a lengthy and expensive hospital stay and the cost of physical therapy.
Some insurances don’t cover stem cell therapy. Still, you need to compare the cost of surgery against your lost wages, months of recovery, and the risk of infections or medical complications. Losing months of your life to painful rehab may not be feasible, and stem cell injections and other alternatives are a viable solution.