@chynex, @bonnieh218: Some general information regarding Voltaren Gel. Here in the US you need a prescription for it. Even with insurance it is fairly expensive, roughly in the $ 45.00 to $ 50.00 range last time I intended to get some. I was able to buy it in a pharmacy in Austria over-the counter, paid 17.00 Euros for the same size tube.
I used Voltaren Gel to try and relieve knee pain after I had it scoped. It might have eased the pain by 15% or so, but not helpful enough for me. The instructions on the gel itself – and confirmed by the physician – says to use a squirt about 4” long at each application, and spread it all around the knee, top, sides, bottom, above and below the knee cap. And to do this 2 times each day. I did this for about 3 1/2 months, then gave up. It became quite expensive!
I ended up having a knee replacement, after Cortisone shots, Synvisc-type injections, and scope surgery did not help. Knowing what I do today, I would try acupuncture, rehab-exercises, myofascial release type massages, and even PRP and stem cells before undergoing replacement surgery. This last step is final – once your own bone sections are gone, they are gone. I never considered using pain medications as a permanent solution to the Arthritis pain; in general the OTC drugs other than Aleve don’t do much for me, and the long term effects on your body probably aren’t the best.
That being said, knee replacement is effective for most people regarding ending or much reducing the pain caused by Arthritis. It also depends a lot on any given person’s lifestyle and expectations what you get out of the TKR. If all you want is less pain in everyday, average situations, it most likely will be great. If you (in that case, me) expect to pick up where I left off in regards to physical activity and sports, then no, it is not equivalent to your own knee.
Sorry to go on, but I did not have enough information about alternatives and realistic expectations about the surgery beforehand, and wish I would have done more research.
PS. I AM doing very well, 13 months after TKR. Good, some days great, some days OK, but I miss my old own knee at least once or twice a day for certain motions or capabilities, if that makes sense.