Osteoarthritis of the knee is a common condition that affects many people, men, and women, over the age of 40 and half of the population before they reach the age of 85. The most common treatment for osteoarthritis has traditionally been surgery, but recent studies are showing that surgery does not always help. In fact, there are times when surgery actually makes osteoarthritis worse. There are many different things that people can do to reduce the pain, swelling, and symptoms of osteoarthritis, which makes surgery an option only when all other avenues have been exhausted.
What is Osteoarthritis of the Knee?
Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and pain in the knee joint. This is often caused simply by the aging process in the joint, but there can be circumstances that can increase the likelihood of the condition. Activities such as high-impact sports (basketball, football, hockey, etc.) often increase the risk, while conditions like diabetes and obesity also play a part in the condition. As people age, so do their joints. As the skin begins to wrinkle, so do the joints. Osteoarthritis in the knee is just the natural aging process of the knee where it gets weaker and more unstable.
How is Osteoarthritis Treated?
The way osteoarthritis in the knee was once treated was to simply replace the joint. Total knee replacement surgeries were very common, although they were also very expensive and ineffective in some patients. Moreover, the artificial joints have a lifetime of roughly 10-15 years, so the patient who is only 40 years old is likely going to have at least three or four replacement surgeries in their lifetime.
The latest findings have shown that there are other alternatives that doctors should try before surgery. Treatments with exercise and anti-inflammatory drugs have become more effective than surgical procedures, and they are much less painful and much more cost-effective.
Exercise has distinct benefits, and these benefits affect the total body. As people exercise, they get into shape, eliminating fat and obesity. This makes for a healthier person as a whole while lessening the pressure on the joints, like the knee. Other benefits include higher self-esteem, more energy, and better muscle tone, which helps to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis. When this pressure is reduced, the symptoms of osteoarthritis will also diminish.
When exercise just is not quite enough, then it might be time to try various anti-inflammatory drugs to help with the swelling and pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil, Aleve, and Naproxen have all been found to be effective in reducing the swelling and pain caused by osteoarthritis. If these do not seem to be enough, then the patient should have a good heart-to-heart conversation with their doctor about pain management, including prescription options.
Osteoarthritis in the knee is very painful, but with new research, it is easier than ever to reduce the pain and swelling caused by the condition without surgery. As long as you can remain active with exercise as recommended by your doctor, you will be able to stay in good, physical shape, which will dramatically reduce the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis. This, along with anti-inflammatory drugs, will greatly reduce the risk of surgery in the future.