Our knee joint is protected with tough lubricated protective cartilage (a layer of tissues) which cushions the joint, has shock absorbing properties and helps in avoiding friction. The wearing away of this protective cartilage of the joint can cause severe knee arthritis. Knee arthritis can cause extreme pain while performing simple day-to-day activities.
Treatment Options for Knee Arthritis
There are several options available including surgical and non-surgical methods for treating knee arthritis. Not all options are appropriate for each patient. For determining the right treatment plan for you, your doctors will take the help of X-rays, MRI and arthroscopy of the knee. The basic step for treating knee arthritis starts with exercise and weight loss.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
Non-surgical treatment begins with strengthening the muscles and losing weight. Each pound of weight puts significant pressure on the knee joint. Even the slightest reduction in body can reduce joint pain significantly. The less weight your joint needs to carry, the less painful it will be to perform the activities. Weight loss is difficult for people with knee joints; but there are ways to exercise without putting too much stress on your knee joint.
A physical therapist can help you learn the best ways to strengthen the muscles around the knee joints that can put lesser burden on it. Using walking aids can also reduce the burden on knee joints. Swimming, water aerobics, cycling, elliptical are often recommended for people with knee arthritis. Pain free squats, leg press and leg extension with limited bending and flexion of the knee is recommended. Strengthening exercises thrice a week should be done for building muscle strength.
Along with weight loss and muscle strengthening, anti-inflammatory medications are often prescribed for reducing pain and inflammation.
NSAID’s that are recommended in both prescription and over the counter forms are Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Advil) and naprosyn (Aleve). Corticosteroids injections are prescribed in cases of severe pain.
Knee braces are used to unload the inside portion of the knee. But these braces should be custom made.
Nutritional supplements like glucosamine sulfate and chondrotin sulfate, derived from avocado extract and extract from Devil’s claw plant, are often used to relieve patient from pain. But they are not FDA regulated. Several clinical studies are going on for evaluating its effectiveness and long term side effects.
Synvisc is injected into the knee joints to provide the joints with extra lubrication. A set of three injections is given, each injection spaced one week apart. This injection can delay the knee replacement therapy by improving the symptoms for around six months. Synovial fluid provides a friction free environment within the knee joint.
Hyalironic acid present in synovial fluid is responsible for lubricating properties, which allows cartilage to avoid friction. Hyaluronan also has anti-inflammatory properties that may help to protect the cartilage in the joint. Most orthopedic surgeons believe that this treatment can give temporary relief in severe knee arthritis but additional treatment will be necessary in the long run.
Surgical Treatment Options
Several surgical options like knee arthroscopy and chondroplasty also exist for treating severe knee arthritis. Chondroplasty involves smoothing of the cartilage to reduce friction inside the joint and prevent thinning of cartilage. Surgical treatment also includes osteotomy which is done to improve the alignment of the patient’s knee joint.
Arthroscopic surgery is carried out to repair torn cartilage. Total knee replacement surgery is done to remove the cartilage and replace it by implanting metal or plastic knee. In partial knee replacement surgery, one part of the knee is replaced.
Consult your doctor for appropriate treatment. Untreated knee arthritis worsens gradually.