Preserving Osteoarthritic Knees

If you have knee osteoarthritis, with all of loss of movement and pain that follows, it's likely your doctor has suggested arthroscopic surgery. This procedure involves the surgeon inserting a scope into the knee and cleaning out loose bits of bone and smoothing out rough cartilage. However, there are ways to avoid this invasive, expensive surgery while still alleviating the arthritis symptoms.

Chief public health officer for the Arthritis Foundation, Patience White, claims that a majority of people simply accept that osteoarthritis is a part of aging and nothing can be done to change the reality of the situation. And although there is no quick fix, there are options to be looked at. One example is simply losing weight. Every pound that is gained equates to four extra pounds the knees must endure. So every lost pound means less stress on the knees.

White also believes that most people who have joint pain assume that they cannot exercise. However, in most cases, physical activity aids in relieving symptoms. Medications can also help. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and injections of steroids and lubricating agents can help relieve pain. The best results typically come when medications are combined with an increasingly active lifestyle.

Chicago orthopedic surgeon, Michael Schafer believes, that the more proactive an individual and the more work they do on their body, the better their success. He suggests taking certain supplements. Despite a number of inconsistent scientific studies on the effectiveness of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, a number of Dr. Schafer’s patients claim these supplements are beneficial.

Physical therapy is also a sound option. Patients who keep all their appointments and closely follow the prescribed home exercises do get better. Certified sports therapist, Lynn Snyder Mackler, claims physical therapy is a much less expensive option than surgery. In the past, osteoarthritis was thought to result entirely from wear and tear on joints – unlike rheumatoid arthritis, which is a disorder where the immune system attacks the joints.

Get physical therapy. Patients who keep all their appointments and do the home exercises they're assigned get better, and "it's incredibly less expensive" than surgery, says Lynn Snyder Mackler, a certified sports physical therapist at the University of Delaware in Newark. In the past, osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, was thought to result entirely from wear and tear on joints - unlike rheumatoid arthritis, a disorder in which the immune system attacks joints.

Today, osteoarthritis is known to be a complex inflammatory disorder. Doctors don’t know all the surrounding details yet, but they do know that cartilage surrounding joints does brake down over time. This leads to bones rubbing together leading to symptoms of pain, stiffness, and loss of movement. They also are aware that some people are at greater risk than others. But people can change their risk and help themselves once their symptoms appear.

Here’s how you can preserve your knees: The higher your weight, the higher your risk. Each pound you gain translates to four pounds of stress on your knees while you walk. If you have pain and stiffness already, weight loss will help. Arthroscopic procedures can still help patients who have certain injuries in addition to arthritis. Other surgeries including bone realignments, can sometimes be appropriate. Knee replacement surgery remains an effective last resort option when all other options fail.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is the second leading cause of disability in the United States today. Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent chronic condition among women, afflicting between 35%-45% of women by the age of 65.


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