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Treating Knee Pain

It’s hard to ignore chronic knee pain and stiffness. If you have difficulty getting around and start to miss out on what you used to enjoy, it’s time to see a doctor about your treatment options.

Coon Joint Replacement Institute at Adventist Health St. Helena offers complete care for your knee pain. Our team will find out what’s causing your symptoms and recommend treatments suited to your diagnosis, age, lifestyle, goals and other factors.

Diagnosing knee pain

The first step to improvement is to learn what’s causing your pain. Whether you’re referred to the Coon Joint Replacement Institute by your regular doctor for an orthopedic exam, or you’re looking for a second opinion, we can help.

Your thorough evaluation may include:

  • A medical history to find out about any injuries or conditions contributing to your joint pain.
  • A physical exam to test your knee strength and range of motion, look for swelling and watch your knee movement while you walk.
  • Imaging tests to reveal what’s going on inside the knee and see if joint damage is early or advanced.
  • Lab tests to help diagnose specific types of arthritis or rule out other conditions that can cause joint pain.

Nonsurgical treatments for knee pain

If you’re not feeling ready for surgery, or your arthritis is mild, lifestyle changes and home therapies can improve your knee pain and even slow the progress of osteoarthritis (OA). Nonsurgical options include:

  • Weight loss. Extra weight puts extra pressure on your knee joint.
  • Modified exercise. If running or other high-impact activities make your knee hurt, try lower-impact options like swimming or cycling.
  • Physical therapy. A physical therapist can teach you exercises that strengthen your knee muscles, improve range of motion and increase flexibility.
  • Assistive devices. You can take pressure off your joint or stabilize it with the help of shoe inserts, knee sleeves, braces or walking aids (like a cane or walker).
  • Medicine. You may be able to manage pain and inflammation with over-the-counter and prescription medicines. These include ibuprofen, cortisone injections (steroid shots), “joint grease” injections (viscosupplementation) or dietary supplements (such as glucosamine and chondroitin).

Surgical treatments for knee pain

If your knee pain gets worse despite home treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery. For many people, surgery provides the best chance at long-term relief — and a return to your favorite activities.

At the Coon Joint Replacement Institute, you’ll find a wide range of surgery options, including minimally invasive and robotic-assisted techniques.

Knee arthroscopy


Depending on what’s causing your knee pain, your surgeon may be able to treat it with a type of surgery called arthroscopy. This minimally invasive procedure is used to:

  • Repair torn cartilage
  • Repair or rebuild torn ligaments, including the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • Remove inflamed tissue
  • Remove loose bone or cartilage

Partial knee replacement


Your knee contains three separate sections called compartments. If OA affects only one or two of these compartments, you may benefit from a partial knee replacement. This means your surgeon will replace the damaged compartment with plastic or metal parts and leave the rest of your knee intact.

Compared to total knee replacement, partial knee replacement uses fewer (and smaller) artificial parts. And your surgeon won’t have to remove as much bone and tissue. This means you may have a faster recovery with less pain. Your knee may also feel more natural and bend more easily.

If you’re a candidate for partial knee replacement and prefer a robotic approach, you may be eligible for MAKOplasty® partial knee resurfacing. Partial knee replacements performed with MAKO technology use special navigation software and a robotic arm. This allows your surgeon to use smaller incisions with more precision, including optimal implant positioning.

Our surgeons were among the first to perform MAKOplasty partial knee resurfacing. And our founder, Dr. Thomas Coon, is universally acknowledged for his pioneering work in the design and development of MAKO robotic arm.

Total knee replacement

If you have advanced arthritis and your pain is severe, you may need a total knee replacement.

Your surgeon will replace damaged bone and cartilage in the bottom of your thigh (femur) and top of your shin bone (tibia) with plastic or metal parts. A plastic “spacer” will help your new implants glide against each other. Depending on the extent of your arthritis, your surgeon may also resurface the underside of your kneecap (patella) with plastic.

Our surgeons offer minimally invasive total knee replacements that have you back on your feet faster. These include:

  • Quadriceps-sparing total knee replacement. Compared to traditional surgery, which often requires at least an 8-inch incision, this technique uses a 3- to 4-inch incision. If you have this type of surgery, your doctor will not have to cut the quadriceps muscles and tendons around your knee. This leads to a shorter and less painful recovery.
  • MAKOplasty total knee replacement. MAKO’s navigation software and robotic arm are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assist with total knee replacement. This technology helps your surgeon precisely remove diseased bone, preserve your healthy bone and tissue, and correctly position your implant.

The first seven MAKO total knee replacement surgeries in the United States were performed here at the Coon Joint Replacement Institute. And our physicians helped develop the software that drives this advanced technology.

As with all surgeries, knee surgery comes with potential risks and complications. You and your doctor will discuss your surgical options, and the benefits and risks of each.

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