Joint replacements are some of the most common surgeries in orthopedics. Patients with pain from arthritis in their knees, hips and shoulder try non-surgical treatments to overcome that pain. At some point, they decide they want surgery to try to get relief. In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I discuss surgical and non-surgical treatment options if you have no cartilage left in your knees.

Angelo asks:
Do I have to undergo knee surgery if both my knees are bone on bone with no cartilage left?

Bone-on-bone arthritis, meaning there is little to no cartilage remaining and no space between the tibia and femur can certainly be an indication for a knee replacement. An x-ray finding alone, though, doesn’t necessarily mean you need a total knee arthroplasty.

It’s reasonable to try non-surgical measures to see if you get relief. Cortisone shots, viscosupplementation, physical therapy, braces, anti-inflammatory medications, platelet-rich plasma and stem cells can all be options to try to decrease pain from arthritis.

Walking up stairs can be difficult with no cartilage in the knee

If none of those treatments are working, surgery can be an option. Unfortunately, arthroscopic surgery to look in the knee and clean up the worn out cartilage probably won’t do much to improve your condition. Knee replacement can be the best option if you truly have no cartilage.

Also read:
Will cartilage damage limit knee motion?
Do you need surgery for cartilage damage in your knee?

Please remember, while I appreciate your questions, I cannot and will not offer specific medical advice by email, on my website, on my podcast, or in social media. My responses are meant to provide general medical information and education. Please consult your physician or health care provider for your specific medical concerns.

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