CONSERVATIVE KNEE CARE
Arthritis is a progressive disease for which there is no cure. Not all patients with arthritis in their knees are ready to move forward with a total or partial knee replacement. There are alternatives to surgery to alleviate pain in an arthritic knee until knee replacement becomes inevitable.
Weight Loss – As we walk, 3 times our body weight is transferred through our knee joints. Running (jogging) transfers 5 times body weight. Maintaining a healthy weight can serve to reduce stress on the knee and reduce pain.
Exercise and good eating habits are not only essential to healthy living, but it is an important factor in prepping for upcoming total joint replacement surgery. Studies have shown that patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 40 are at an increased risk for surgical complications. Compared with patients of normal weight, obese patients are at an increased risk of infection, poor wound healing, and blood clots. Obesity also increases the risk of loosening, or failure, of your components which could require another surgery to fix them.
Exercise Programs – Controlling knee pain can be complex and highly individual. Knee arthritis can be aggravated by many activities such as stair climbing, running/jogging, walking on uneven surfaces, a sudden change in activity level and new exercise programs. Low impact activities such as cycling, elliptical, walking on flat ground, and/or swimming will be more beneficial. Additionally, core strengthening can be highly beneficial and can indirectly help lessen knee pain.
Anti-inflammatory medications are the most common medication recommended for arthritis pain relief. They help reduce pain and swelling from an arthritic joint. The most common of these medications are ibuprofen and naproxen and can be found over the counter at local pharmacies. There are also a variety of prescription medications that are also indicated for arthritis pain relief. All of these medications can provide effective pain relief but they can also have serious side effects. You should consult your primary care doctor prior to starting these medications on a regular basis.
Steroid (cortisone) injection – These injections into the knee joint can provide significant pain relief for patients with arthritic knees. They can be given on a regular basis, every 3 months, but eventually they will no longer control pain due to progressing arthritis.