Doctor – what do you think about this new treatment for my knee ? Should I give it a try ? Will it work ?

Each day in my office, I talk to patients about ways to help make their lives better – improving their quality of life. There are usually a wide range of choices to make about what is best. This can mean traditional treatments like injections, medications, therapies and surgery. Each of these has a role in helping people. There are alternatives as well. Patients ask me about chiropractic, acupuncture, herbal remedies, holistic treatments and more. I have about 6 to 8 ongoing clinical trials that may turn out to be the best greatest treatment ever. People bring in fliers printed from Amazon with the latest cure for knee pain. The question is often the same: Will this help me doctor ?

There are treatments we understand well, and some we don’t. At least not yet. In each case, and for every person I see, it comes down to a ‘risk versus benefit’ discussion. Each treatment we consider can be helpful to some degree, but always carries some risk. Sometimes the risk is low. These are usually treatments that the worst outcome is that it just doesn’t work. Sometimes the risks can be significant. For example, performing a joint replacement surgery on a patient with multiple medical problems. In some cases, the risk is not known, or at least not well understood. Newer treatments conducted under a clinical trial may be designed to better understand these risks in as safe an environment we can create.

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You will often hear me bring up this ‘risk vs benefit’ analysis when talking to you and we will go over this in detail to best understand the next step. My goal is always to provide the best treatment at the lowest risk, and only go to the next ‘risk level’ if needed. Try thinking like a physician: How severe if the problem? How much risk is worth taking to improve your quality of life? In the end, these are questions only you can answer !

Scott Hacker is a board certified orthopedic surgeon in San Diego, California who specializes in Sports Medicine, Knee and Shoulder Conditions. He conducts a variety of clinical trials for orthopedic patients. He is currentlyaccepting new patients in the practice and in the research trials. Learn more on this website, or contact Dr. Hacker’s office for more information.