New device tested to ease severe knee pain arthritis in patients

(CNN) – A new device tested might help ease the pain for some arthritis patients, and help them put off or even avoid a total knee replacement.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It affects more than 32 million adults in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But relief from osteoarthritis in a person’s knees often leads to major surgery and a monthslong recovery

After 33 years as a firefighter, Chuck Stenger retired, but not the way he wanted to. He said his knee hurt off and on for years.

“I had to give almost everything up. The fire department transferred me into preventions and investigations for the last five years of my career because of this,” he said.

And before Stenger retired, he said the pain nearly brought him down while he was out on a call.

“It felt like a knife was being shoved right into my knee,” Stenger said.

Stenger was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, and he was worried about recovery time and the toll a total knee replacement would take. “When I found this study I said — I’m going to sign up for it!” he said.

The multi-medical center clinical trial involved a device implanted into the patient’s knee.

Dr. David Flanigan with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center says 90% of the patients who have gotten the device at his hospital have seen improved function and less pain.

“We’re looking at a shock absorber similar to what you’d see in a car,” Flanigan said. “It’s taking some of that shock, or some of that force that stress that the knee sees when you’re weight bearing, and that can be over 30% of that shock or that stress where it’s unloading that from that compartment.”

Stenger has had the device for three years now.

“It has made my life whole again. I’m able to climb ladders. I’m back golfing again. Not good, but I’m still golfing!” he said,

Meanwhile, results from the study were presented Thursday at the orthopedic summit in Boston, and while the device is not FDA-approved, the company that makes it says it’s working “to gain the necessary regulatory approvals.”

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