Be in the Know: Understand Your Knee Arthritis Treatment Options

Mitchell K. Freedman, DO August 21st, 2015

For many, knee arthritis can really hold an individual back from living an active, healthy lifestyle. Sometimes patients express sentiments of surprise—reporting the feeling that their arthritis pain snuck up on them. It can be hard to cope with the initial diagnosis without a treatment plan to look forward to. Claiming hope and the sheer motivation to push onward toward rehabilitation can be as simple as feeling fully informed of all options and resources available to you. With this in mind, Rothman Orthopaedic Institute informs and empowers patients with every possible knee arthritis treatment option. 

What is knee arthritis?
Arthritis is inflammation of the knee joint. Instability can either be caused by decreased cartilage, rubbing bone, or injury to the muscles, tendons, or ligaments surrounding the knee. The components of the knee that may be affected are the femur (thighbone), tibia (shinbone), patella (kneecap), articular cartilage, and meniscus cartilage.
There are three types of knee arthritis:
  • Degenerative Joint Disease/Osteoarthritis - Nicknamed the “wear-and-tear” arthritis, cartilage loss is the primary cause for osteoarthritis. As the tough and rubbery cushion for the knee movement, the cartilage plays a protective role that leaves the joint vulnerable when it wears away. The space between the bones is shrinks when the cartilage becomes rough and frayed leading to possible bone spurs.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis – The target of this autoimmune disease is the cartilage, ligaments, and bone in the knee. It is inflammatory arthritis where the synovial membrane will chronically swell. Enzymes are released that soften the meniscus and articular cartilage, in addition to, the bone symmetrically in both knee joints.

  • Posttraumatic Arthritis – If appropriate care after a bad fall or direct injury to the knee isn’t taken, the knee will not heal properly. Along with other numerous complications, this can result in arthritis development.

Options For Knee Arthritis Treatment
Unfortunately there is no cure for arthritis, but there are many ways to keep the symptoms under control to allow for a better quality of life. Offering both non-surgical and surgical options, Rothman Orthopaedic Institute is here to provide the best knee arthritis treatment to fit your lifestyle.
Non-Surgical Treatment
Initially, non-surgical treatment options will be explored. Depending upon the severity of the arthritis and its attributes, your doctor will recommend the appropriate treatments.
  • Lifestyle Modification - Lifestyle changes can protect your knee, and lessen the severity of the wear and tear. You can do this by lessening movements that would stress the knee opting for low impact exercises instead. Weight loss helps to increase function and prevents further joint aggravation. Heat, ice, and ointments may be used for temporary pain relief.

  • Physical Therapy - Prescribed exercises under the supervision of your doctor of physical therapist will increase flexibility and range of motion. The goal is to strengthen the local muscles that support the joint.

  • Assistive Devices - Custom orthotics may aid the situation by targeting an individual’s posture, balance and form. A brace, knee sleeve, or use of a cane can shift load-bearing weight away from the knee suffering arthritis. Elastic bandages are sometimes utilized to add support. Acupuncture and magnetic pulse therapy are alternative options recommended in some cases.

  • Medication - There are several types of medications that can be prescribed such as anti-inflammatory medication, cortiscosteroids, COX-2 inhibitors, non-narcotic pain relievers, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, injections, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.

Surgical Treatment
If symptoms persist beyond the extensive use of nonsurgical treatments or disability from arthritis is eminent, your doctor may recommend surgery.
  • Arthroscopy – Utilizing a small camera, a minimal incision is made by the surgeon to repair damage to the meniscus that may have aggravated or intensified arthritis pain.

  • Cartilage grafting – If the portion of cartilage damaged is small, grafting will be the best surgical option. Healthy cartilage taken from either a tissue bank or from the knee itself to repair the hole in the cartilage.

  • Synovectomy – In cases of inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis, the affected joint lining is surgically removed.

  • Osteotomy – This procedure addresses the pressure caused by the position of the knee bones due to thinned cartilage. The tibia or femur is cut into a shape that will prevent further joint damage.

  • Total or partial knee replacement – With the goal of joint functionality, the surgeon inserts a plastic or metal joint prosthesis to replace the damaged cartilage and bone that has been removed.

For more information about any of these knee arthritis treatment options, Rothman Orthopaedic Institute orthopaedic specialists would like to be in touch with you. Please give us a call today at 1-800-321-9999.

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