Those who suffer from arthritis in the knee understand what a controlling factor this condition can play in their day to day life. It may begin as slight pain and stiffness as joints initially swell. As it gets worse, though, some days may be extremely painful, even inhibiting normal actions like walking or climbing the stairs. At Rothman Institute, our knee specialists are dedicated to helping patients understand knee arthritis and how they can find relief through treatment.
There are three major causes of arthritis in the knee. Osteoarthritis, also known as “wear and tear arthritis” occurs when the cartilage of the knee joint wears away over time. Without protective cartilage, the bones rub together, which can be extremely painful. Traumatic injuries to the knee can also lead to osteoarthritis because they may accelerate the deterioration of cartilage. Alternatively inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, begins with swelling of the joint lining which releases enzymes that weaken and eventually destroy the cartilage. Knee specialists will use a combination of medical history, physical examinations, and x-rays to determine the type and extent of a patient’s knee arthritis.
Depending upon the nature of a patient’s particular case of arthritis in the knee, there are a variety of different solutions available. In many cases, doctors will begin treating the arthritis through conservative approaches. These treatments, which do not involve surgery, are most effective during the earlier stages of arthritis. They may include anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone shots, or even physical therapy to reduce the pain and swelling in the knee. Typically, these treatments offer temporary relief, although in some cases they may provide a permanent solution.
For other patients, especially those whose knee arthritis is at a more advanced stage, these conservative methods are not a sufficient or lasting solution. When this is the case, the next step the doctor may recommend is knee replacement. In a total knee replacement, the surface of the joint is removed, allowing the arthritic ends of the bones to be shaved off. These ends are then replaced by new metal and plastic elements which work together to recreate the normal function of the knee. The procedure is both safe and effective, typically providing pain relief as well as restoration of typical motion for the patient.
When trying to decide how to treat arthritis in the knee, patients should begin by talking with their doctors. Then, for more specialized help, they should see a knee specialist at Rothman Institute. Our knee physicians are some of the most experienced specialists available and can offer comprehensive and caring treatment for knee arthritis.
For more information about Rothman Institute, contact us today.