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When speaking of the knee, there are 3 different types of arthritis that a patient may be afflicted with. There is rheumatoid arthritis, which is an inflammatory condition, post-traumatic arthritis, which develops after an injury, and the most common type of knee arthritis, osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a condition in which joint cartilage is slowly worn away. Most often, osteoarthritis simply occurs with middle age, and develops as the muscles become weaker and the body heals with less efficiency. It is a condition that occurs more often and more severely in women. Osteoarthritis is also more likely to occur if an individual:
Osteoarthritis can be a very difficult affliction to live with, as the knees are important to many of our movements, such as climbing up stairs or bending to sit down. While surgery is an option if the condition is unmanageable, doctors recommend trying a number of things before having to resort to going under the knife.
Many small things can be done to help cope with knee arthritis, particularly in the early stages of the condition. Exercising daily (though not strenuously) or taking up yoga, eating a balanced diet, losing weight, and sleeping well can all help improve the quality of life in the early stages of arthritis. Hot or cold compresses can also be helpful to reduce swelling and ease pain. Splints, braces, or canes are another way to help ease discomfort and prevent further damage from occurring.
Physical and occupational therapy are 2 treatments that can help with osteoarthritis. A physical or occupational therapist can help with a specialized exercise program that is tailored to help each individual strengthen the muscles that are most afflicted, and to explore different ways of doing everyday tasks that work within the confines of the condition. That being said, you may want to consider viscosupplements as a way to prevent further damage and to manage your current condition while you use other therapies.
Many doctors will start off with suggesting pain medication, supplement, or complementary medicine to help manage the pain of osteoarthritis without resorting to surgery. Over-the-counter pain medications may help to manage pain, but these medications don’t help to prevent damage.
Doctors may suggest that the patient receive viscosupplements. Cortisone injections offer quick pain relief and help reduce inflammation, with effects lasting several months. However, a patient should only receive a limited amount of injections per year, as they may actually worsen the joint damage over time. Viscosupplements involve injecting lubricating fluid, such as hyaluronic acid, into the affected joint. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring fluid in the joint that is lost over time, and injections return this natural lubricator to the knees to help them move smoothly again. Hyaluronic acid injections can have lasting effects for up to 6 months or more.
Viscosupplements are becoming more and more popular as a way to avoid surgery. Not only can this treatment help to manage your condition, but it may also help delay surgery by preventing further damage to the joints.
If you are young and are already suffering from knee arthritis, the first thing to do is to examine your lifestyle. Make sure your weight is under control so as to lessen the strain on already stressed joint—you can do this by watching your caloric intake and exercising on a daily basis. Low strain activities like swimming are best. Anti-inflammatories can also help, but the most beneficial treatment may be hyaluronic acid injections.
Viscosupplements work by injecting a small amount of hyaluronic acid directly into the damaged joints. This allows the damaged, cartilage-covered bones to glide against each other smoothly and therefore reduces friction. It also adds a liquid cushion to soften impact during weight-bearing activity for increased comfort and mobility. Popular brands of orthopedic injections include Orthovisc and Synvisc. These injections can last from 3 months up to a year, and treatment can be repeated with at least 3 months between treatments.
Viscosupplementation is a safe and effective treatment, but like any other medical procedure, there are some side effects that may occur. These reactions are typically very mild and will go away without intervention within a day or 2 of appearing. Side effects may include:
As osteoarthritis in the knee is a condition that worsens gradually, there are many ways to manage the discomfort and inconvenience of its early signs. From managing a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight, to engaging in physical therapies and taking anti-inflammation medicines, there are many ways to live comfortably with osteoarthritis before considering surgical options. Even once the condition has progressed, viscosupplementation in the form of hyaluronic acid injections is a safe and effective way to delay or avoid any more serious surgical options.
Learn more about Synvisc and other orthopedic injectables by browsing through our product catalog.
Disclaimer: These articles, and any views and opinions expressed, are not endorsed by Raskel Medical. The articles are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered medical advice. Raskel Medical does not check or edit the content of these articles for medical accuracy. Contact your medical practitioner for any medical advice needed.