Osteoarthritis, or wear and tear arthritis is an age-related disorder where the normal bony cartilage between the two bony surfaces gradually diminishes. This leads to eventual clash and rubbing of the bony surfaces with each other, thus displaying symptoms of pain, stiffness, immobility and swelling. As anticipated, the most common site that gets affected by arthritis are the knees. Osteoarthritis is by far more common in women than men. According to knee doctors, the risk of developing the disease slowly rises after 45 years of age.
Factors that predispose to the development of knee arthritis include age, obesity, female gender, repetitive stress or overuse, and associated co-morbid conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and other metabolic disorders.
After a brief overview, in this blog, we will be discussing the treatment options available today to treat the disease and improve the quality of life of the patient.
Over the counter oral medications are the initial treatment options suggested by orthopedic specialists. These medications include acetaminophen, as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and naproxen.
Many topical analgesic ointments and creams are available in the market today that are efficacious in the pain management of mild disease. You can get a stronger formula on prescription from your physician.
Intra Articular Injectables
Patients who suffer from moderate to severe disease progression or acute flares are treated with intra articular corticosteroid injections. These agents relieve the inflammatory process and may subside pain for up to several months.
Another substance usually injected in the joint space is hyaluronic acid. It is found naturally in the joint space and by using the injectable form, it can replenish the natural fluid levels of the joint space, thus relieving pain and immobility.
Exercise and Physical Therapy
Contrary to what most people believe, exercise and physical therapy has been proven to be highly beneficial for osteoarthritis patients. Exercise can help strengthen the muscles that support the knee joint. A physical therapy program, designed and curated according to an individual’s needs, can help improving flexibility and mobility of the joints.
For every 1 pound you gain, there is an additional 3 pounds of burden on your knee joints. Your health care professional might advise you weight loss, and in some cases, shedding those extra pounds have resulted in massive clinical improvement in initial stage disease.
Dietary supplements that your doctor may advise you are vitamin D, calcium, chondroitin and glucosamine. Some people may be urged to take SAMe, which is a natural supplement known to be as efficacious as pain killers. However, we advise taking any supplements under your doctor’s supervision.
The treatment options mentioned above are all first line, non-interventional management options. People with mild to moderate knee arthritis may stay mobile and pain free just on these treatments. If the osteoarthritis seems to worsen, or immobility and joint restriction limits the patient in performing basic routine chores, doctors may proceed to interventional procedures.
In arthroscopy surgery, the surgeon may insert a small thin tube with a camera at its end. The camera is used as an endoscope to visualize the condition of the knee joint. Once in the joint space, the surgeon may remove broken and worn out cartilage pieces. In this fashion, the knee joint is rid of all the debris and loose cartilage that may be contributing to pain. Patients usually return to their routine activities and the recovery is uneventful.
Knee Replacement Surgery
Knee replacement surgery is used as the final resort in patients with debilitating pain and joint restriction, completely unresponsiveness to osteoarthritis treatment options mentioned above. The surgery involves removing a part or even the whole joint, and replacing it with an artificial joint, usually made of plastic or metal. The surgery is indeed a big procedure, involving high risk consents and slow recovery. The good part is that the resulting relief can last for an eternity with complete return of functioning.
Moreover, the replacement knee may last 10 years, but according to studies, about 85% of the time, the artificial knee works for more than 20 years. This success rate is the reason most knee specialists McLean suggest this procedure for treating knee arthritis and other knee injuries.Read More »