The knee is one of the body parts most commonly affected by degenerative arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis and wear-and-tear arthritis.
According to the data gathered by the Arthritis Foundation, over 27 million people in the United States have osteoarthritis. The disease occurs when the cartilage between the joints wears down, causing the bones to rub against one another without the benefit of the shock-absorbing properties of cartilage. As a result, swelling and stiffness develop and bone spurs form, leading to decreased mobility and severe pain.
Although athletics, frequent or repetitive stress injuries, and other illnesses can cause the condition, factors such as age, weight, heredity, and even gender all contribute to the risk of developing osteoarthritis. The effects can drastically affect daily life, especially your every movement, for the following reasons:
- Moderate to severe pain even while resting
- Intense, intolerable pain that restricts daily activities
- Long-term inflammation and swelling
- Bowing or deformity
Due to the progressive nature of the disease, seeking treatment as early as possible is necessary to prevent further complications, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and improve mobility.
Treating Knee Osteoarthritis
If you or a loved one are suffering from knee osteoarthritis, there are several ways to manage the condition. Your choices include:
- Oral medication
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Acetaminophen, can provide temporary pain relief when symptoms arise. You can buy them over-the-counter, but you will need a doctor’s prescription if you want stronger drugs. Prolonged and frequent use of NSAIDs, however, can lead to stomach ulcers and other gastrointestinal complications, so if you are looking for a long-term solution for your osteoarthritis, this may not be the best option for you.
- Topical analgesics
Drugs for osteoarthritis are also available in cream or ointment form. These topical alternatives include Capsaicin, Lidocaine patches, Trolamine, Methyl Salicylate and Menthol, and Diclofenac Sodium gel and solution.
Corticosteroid or cortisone shots can provide month-long pain relief while fighting inflammation. To enhance the joint fluid that allows smooth movement, Hyaluronic Acid can also be injected into the joint.
- Weight loss
Your weight puts pressure on your knees. Thus, losing weight is beneficial to increase your chances of managing osteoarthritis properly. If you are considering knee replacement surgery, getting rid of extra pounds will also contribute to the success of the surgery.
- Physical therapy and exercise
Physical therapists can provide programs and exercises that will strengthen knee-supporting muscles. Aside from that, they can also give advice on the type of movement or walking aid you need, such as braces and canes.
Considering Knee Surgery
If drugs, exercise, therapy, and weight loss are ineffective in reducing the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, then it is time to consider surgery. Your doctor may recommend one of the two types: arthroscopic surgery or knee replacement surgery.
- Arthroscopic surgery
In this procedure, the surgeon will remove the cartilage pieces that have been damaged and worn by the disease. By doing so, the knee will be cleaned of the cartilage that causes pain and discomfort. Recovery takes only a few days. However, arthroscopic surgery can only provide short-term pain relief, possibly delaying the inevitable: a complete knee replacement surgery.
- Knee replacement surgery
Your doctor may recommend knee replacement surgery when severe pain and limited mobility are still present despite trying all other treatment methods. In this procedure, the surgeon will remove the damaged parts of the knee joint and replace them with artificial joints, which can be made of metal or plastic. Unlike the effects of arthroscopic surgery, the benefits of knee replacement can last a lifetime. Knee replacement surgery can either be total, partial, or custom.
As a knee surgery doctor in New York Dr. Karkare understands the difficulties of living with osteoarthritis. Thus, he provides total knee replacement and custom knee replacement surgery in New York, from Manhattan and multiple offices all over Long Island, to help osteoarthritis sufferers relieve pain. To learn more, contact him now.