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question answer rheumatologist

Q&A: Don’t Want Knee Surgery?

Question to the Doctor: I have bone-on-bone arthritis in both knees. I don’t want surgery. I am 70 years old and overweight, and I can’t exercise because of my knees. All I want is my life back. Can you give me some advice?

Answer: Weight loss isn’t easy, but it will reduce pressure on your joints, give you more energy and make you feel better overall. Consider exercise options like gentle swimming, water aerobics and upper body exercises that won’t put pressure on your aching knees.

Ask your doctor about nonsurgical treatments to reduce pain like cognitive behavioral therapy, joint injections and acupuncture. A referral to a physical therapist could introduce lifestyle modifications and assistive devices to reduce pain and increase function.

Also, talk with your doctor about why you don’t want surgery. Learning more about the process, risks and benefits may ease your concerns and make it a more attractive option for you.

David Pisetsky, MD, rheumatologist, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.

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