New Solutions for Knee Pain

"The gender knee was designed because ... the female knee is narrower and the knee cap moves differently than the male knee," said Dr. Giles Scuderi at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City who designed one such device.

Some experts, however, remain skeptical about this female-friendly knee.

"What the companies are attempting to do is make knee replacements with different shapes that might better fit people (women among them) whose anatomy is slightly different," said Dr. William Hozack, president of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons and professor of orthopedic surgery at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.

"That the companies are choosing to market to women is just that -- a marketing campaign," he said.

Another synthetic option lets people avoid surgery altogether. In a procedure called viscosupplementation, doctors inject a synthetic gel into the knee to lubricate the joint and alleviate pain -- if only for a while.

"[Viscosupplementation] helps about 25-30 percent of patients for a period of months to one year," said Dr. Allen Boyd Jr., division chief of adult reconstructive surgery at the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y. "Its effectiveness is relatively poor."

Still, for many like Lom, any relief from knee pain represents a major lifestyle enhancement -- and possibly even a return to the athletic exploits of years past.

"I have been able to compete again, which is huge for my mental health, and fun for my kids to watch," she said.

"I have been able to ride horses again -- which is my passion -- and I just competed in a triathlon, which is a blast," she said. "I loved it, I loved it. I'm addicted."

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