The growing number of patients requiring treatment for osteoarthritis is prompting healthcare professionals to search for new, less invasive treatments.
Now that people are living longer, many more are experiencing the physical problems associated with growing old and around one in ten people over the age of 65 have a major disability as a result of osteoarthritis, where the joint cartilage slowly wears away.
In recent years, orthopaedic surgeons have reported a marked increase in the number of patients seeking knee replacement surgery to combat the effects of osteoarthritis.
However, less invasive treatments are now becoming increasingly available, including joint fluid therapy.
The treatment involves a substance called hyaluronan being injected into the knee, where it acts as a lubricant in the joint, offering substantial pain relief.
Ken Reali, vice president and general manager for Smith & Nephew Clinical Therapies, which markets Supartz joint fluid therapy, commented: "Joint fluid therapy can provide relief for debilitating knee pain without drugs or surgery.
"It provides both doctors and patients with greater options and control over their treatment of osteoarthritis knee pain."
However, the treatment is not suitable in all cases, and many patients seek relief from their osteoarthritis via knee replacement surgery.
Over 30,000 knee replacements are carried out every year in the UK, offering pain relief and increased mobility to patients for a minimum of ten years.
A knee replacement in a UK private hospital costs between £8,000 and £10,000, which includes all in-patient treatment, including accommodation, X-rays and medication.