Knee pain is a very common problem nowadays, affecting over 40% of people aged 55 and over. The main cause of knee pain has been proven to be arthritis, which is the stiffness and inflammation of joints. Arthritis simply means widespread destruction of cartilage in the body.
Types of Arthritis
There are three basic types of arthritis that may affect all joints:
- Osteoarthritis (OA) This is the most common forms of knee arthritis and it manifests as a slowly progressive degenerative disease that destroys the joint cartilage in time. Osteoarthritis usually affects older people and can also cause pain in the hip and other joints such as shoulder joint arthritis.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) It can occur at any age, destroying the joint cartilage. RA is an inflammatory type of arthritis that usually affects both knees, in addition to other cartilages in the body.
- Post-traumatic Arthritis This type of arthritis can develop after a serious knee injury and can’t be spotted right away. Post-Traumatic Arthritis is very similar to RA because it develops on a prolonged period of time after the patient had suffered a knee ligament injury, fracture or meniscus tear.
There are several symptoms you need to know about arthritis. The first one is pain that usually develops gradually. You might also experience severe pain and swelling, especially in the morning. Pain will increase during certain activities such as walking, jogging or playing soccer. After a prolonged period of inactivity, pain will be usually stronger.
Doctor Examination of Arthritis
Our specialist will perform a complex examination that focuses on several aspects, including joint swelling, range of motion in your limbs and walking. Our high-end X-ray device shows when your knee is affected by observing a loss of joint space. We also use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and blood tests to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis.
For osteoarthritis, you can now benefit of a wide range of treatments. Because each person is different, the effectiveness of a specific treatment can vary from one individual to another. Prior to choosing the right treatment, consult your physician. In its early stages, all forms of acne are treated with a non-surgical procedure in order to maximize the results and ease the process. The aim of such a treatment is to increase your functions, reduce the sensation of pain and of course reduce the symptoms. If you choose to undergo a non-surgical treatment, you need to know that there are four main groups of nonsurgical procedures: exercise, supporting devices, lifestyle modifications and other unique methods.
- Lifestyle Modification Modifications in your lifestyle are big changes that can be observed by everybody. For example, losing weight, switching from running to cycling or swimming and other activities fall into this category. Most people with osteoarthritis of the knee are simply overweight. Because of that, it is imperative to lose the extra pounds they have in order to reduce the stress on joints and relieve them of extra weight. By losing weight, they will fell less pain and will be able to walk better.
- Exercises Exercising is the best thing you can do to increase your flexibility and range of motion, while strengthening the muscles in your legs. Exercises and physical therapy are extremely effective in improving your body functions and reducing pain in the joints. A professional physical therapist can create a personalized exercise regimen that can meet your needs and help you cope with arthritis.
- Supportive Devices Wearing energy-absorbing shoes, knee sleeves or using any other supportive devices, such as a cane, could prove extremely helpful. According to a recent study, patients who use knee braces can fight more successfully osteoarthritis of the knee. If arthritis is centered only on one knee, one of these braces could come in handy. Today, specialists use two types of braces – a support brace used to support the entire weight on the knee and an unloader brace that does exactly as the name suggests, unloading the stress from the knee affected by osteoarthritis. In all the studies conducted in this matter almost all patients noticed an improvement of the symptoms correlated with a decrease in pain.
- Drug TreatmentIn treating arthritis of the knee, you can capitalize on several drugs. Since every patient is different and each of us responds differently to medication, you need to check up with your orthopaedic surgeon who will prescribe a personalized drug treatment plan just for you. While Panadol or other pain relievers are available without a special medical prescription, anti-inflammatory medications (acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin) can be acquired only with medical prescriptions. Because every single drug can have side effects, you need to be extremely careful which one you choose to take. In the therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee, pain relievers are usually preferred over anti-inflammatory medications.
- Joint Supplements Glucosamine sulphate, plant extracts such as ginger, boswellia, and turmeric, collagen and unsaponifiables of avocado and soybean are just some ingredients that make up the most famous joint supplements found on the market. Dr. Lee uses a unique formula that combines all of these ingredients, treating each patient according to his own needs.
- Corticosteroid Injections This is another method to treat arthritis of the knee. Corticosteroids are extremely powerful and potent anti-inflammatory agents that can be safely injected into your joints. Corticosteroid injections are usually used for moderate to more severe pain.
- Viscosupplementation with Hyaluronic Acid Injections
Viscosupplementation involves injecting substances into the joint to improve the quality of the joint fluid. Hyaluronic acid injections add a natural lubricant found in normal healthy joints. Its quality and quantity is decreased in diseased joints.
If your arthritis does not respond to these nonsurgical treatments, you may need to have surgery. There are a number of surgical options, including the following:
- Arthroscopic surgery is a keyhole surgery that uses fiber optic technology to enable the surgeon to see inside the joint and clean it of debris or repair torn cartilage.
- An osteotomy cuts the shinbone (tibia) or the thighbone (femur) to improve the alignment of the knee joint.
- A total or partial knee replacement replaces the severely damaged knee joint cartilage with metal and plastic.
- Cartilage regeneration or repair is possible for some knees with limited or contained cartilage loss from trauma or arthritis.