Do you find that your knee pain is making it more difficult to enjoy time with friends or get a good night’s sleep? Have you or your spouse / partner recently become aware of a bow-legged or knock-kneed deformity in your knee?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, you may be dealing with the effects of arthritis on the knee joint.
There are numerous treatments for arthritis of the knee, and they span the gamut from the non-invasive, such as activity modification, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (RICE), to the invasive. The end goals of the treatment of arthritis of the knee are always, limiting the damage or progression of the arthritis and eliminating the pain of the arthritis. Between the two extremes there are basically three other major modalities, bracing, medications and injections.
Bracing is utilized to correct a problem with knee alignment or kinematics (motion). If the knee develops a deformity, the two most common being bowlegged or knock-kneed alignment, there is increased stress put onto the inside (medial) or outside (lateral) compartment of the knee. What a brace does is reverse the deformity and relieve the increased stress in the affected compartment. If the knee develops an abnormal motion this is usually due to an incompetence of one of the four main ligaments in the knee secondary to an injury. What the brace does in this instance is give the knee stability by substituting for the damaged ligament.
Medications fall into three categories:
These medications all serve the same purpose to limit joint damage due to inflammation within the joint, thereby decreasing or eliminating the pain caused by the inflammation. These medications are usually started by your primary care physician or rheumatology specialist. It may be necessary to try a number of medications to find the one best suited for you.
Injections fall into three broad categories:
These injections have various degrees of effectiveness linked mostly to the severity of the arthritis at the time of presentation. Your primary care doctor, rheumatology or orthopedic specialist will advise you on whether injection therapy is a viable option in your treatment plan and the type of injection best suited for your particular condition.
If you are a patient with knee pain that is unresolved after attempting a number of treatment options, or you are noticing decreasing relief with a treatment that has been successful over a period of time, it may be time to consider a knee replacement. Patients opting for joint replacements have usually tried multiple non-invasive modalities. They may have also tried other minimally invasive surgical procedures, such as arthroscopy of the knee, without success.
Thanks to advancements in technology, biomaterials, surgical technique and patient selection, coupled with the benefit of experience; knee replacements, have become highly effective in the restoration of lost function and the elimination of the pain often caused by knee arthritis.
Be sure to ask your doctor about all your knee replacement options, including both total and partial knee replacements.
If you are suffering from pain in the knee or any other joint, it’s time to speak with your doctor. Together with your family, you can discuss and develop the best course of action to ensure your future quality of life.
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