‘Shock absorber’ device for the knees is giving people immobilised by arthritis their lives back – without the need for joint replacement surgery
- The experimental implant is surgically attached to the bones above the knee
- It works like the suspension in a car and takes off two stones of knee pressure
- The new device, called Atlas is already being used by five NHS hospitals
A ‘shock absorber’ for the knees is giving people who are immobilised by arthritis their lives back – without the need for a joint replacement.
The experimental implant, which is surgically attached to the bones above and below the knee joint, works like the suspension in a car and takes the equivalent of up to two stones of pressure off struggling knees.
This soothes pain and increases mobility, and manufacturers hope it will help the growing number of middle-aged but sporty people whose active lifestyles have put their knees under strain, but who want to avoid the trauma of major surgery.
Called Atlas, the device is already being used by five NHS hospitals – Harrogate District Hospital, University Hospital Aintree, Rotherham General Hospital, Warrington Hospital and Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Treatment costs around £13,500 privately.
A ‘shock absorber’ for the knees is giving people who are immobilised by arthritis their lives back
One of the first patients to benefit from the 40-minute procedure is Peter Bell, 64, who recently completed a marathon in the mountains of Colorado, just eight months after having surgery. ‘It has given me my life back,’ he says.
More than four million Britons have osteoarthritis of the knee and treatments range from painkillers and physiotherapy to joint replacement surgery.
Up to 60,000 a year undergo a total knee replacement.
A diagram (pictured above) of the device that is set to help knee patients get back on the road
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But such is the strain on the artificial joints that as many as one in ten patients, particularly those who are younger and more active, need another new one within ten years.
Doctors hope alternative remedies such as the Atlas shock absorber will help many younger patients avoid total joint replacement.
In a healthy knee, load is absorbed by the cartilage, but in patients with osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, the cartilage that lines the leg joint gradually wears away, leaving bone rubbing on bone, pain and mobility problems.
University Hospital Aintree (pictured above) is one of the hospitals already using the device
The Atlas implant is a metal plate that attaches with surgical screws to the femur, just above the knee. Another plate is attached to the tibia or shinbone, directly below it.
Between the two plates is a ‘spring’ made from a tube of tough, compressible resin.
Make your own: Banana tea
My dad first told me about this banana tea. He read about the positive effects it had on night-time leg cramps, and now he swears by it.
Banana is a good source of the minerals potassium and magnesium, which aid muscle function, so that might have something to do with it. Some people also eat the banana after boiling.
Make your own Banana tea
- 1 whole banana
- 1 stick of cinnamon
1.Chop both ends off the banana, then cut the fruit in half.
2. Add the banana and cinnamon to a pan of boiling water (about 1½ cups).
3. Simmer for 10 minutes, then pour the liquid into a cup.
4. Drink hot before bedtime.
By Frederick Faulkner
The operation is carried out under general anaesthetic, and the implant inserted via a 3in incision on the outside of the knee. Patients are usually discharged the next day and do strengthening exercises at home.
Mr Bell, from Portstewart, Northern Ireland, started to suffer arthritic pain in his right knee eight years ago but, having already had hip surgery three years earlier, did not want another major operation.
He searched the internet for potential treatments and stumbled across the Atlas. ‘I was on crutches for no more than a couple of days, back at work after ten and started to run short distances after about four months.’
Eight months later he completed the Pikes Peak marathon – a race up a 14,000ft mountain in Colorado. ‘To be able to run up and then down a mountain, thanks to this implant in my knee, was incredible. I couldn’t be happier,’ he said.
Mike McNicholas, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Aintree University Hospital, Liverpool, says: ‘It’s a really fantastic device – and works a bit like the suspension in a car, absorbing some of the load on the knee when moving.
‘I’ve got people who were not responding to pain medication who are now living their lives comfortably, including one patient who is doing Ironman triathlons.
‘In fact, we often have to tell patients to slow down.’
A 2017 study in Clinical Medicine Insights, involving 26 volunteers with crumbling knees, found that in patients as young as 25, the Atlas device significantly reduced pain and boosted mobility.
The Nue Co Reboot Travel Set, £130
The Nue Co Reboot Travel Set (pictured above) is available at netaporter.com
Reinvigorate with this collection of mini potions to ease everything from sleep problems to digestive issues. Described by the makers as, ‘an espresso without the jitters’.
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