Osteoarthritis of the knee can be a painful and debilitating medical condition. It is a form of arthritis that is usually caused by excess wear and tear of the knee joint. As we age, the cartilage between the two knee bones begins to break down and the bones start to rub against each other. This condition gradually worsens over time, causing inflammation in the knee area, as well as pain, tenderness, and the loss of mobility. At first your doctor may suggest that you change your physical activities to put less stress on your knee joints, begin a physical therapy treatment plan, and take over-the-counter pain relievers. If over time these basic treatments are no longer effective, other treatment plans can be used. Below is a list of the top treatment options for osteoarthritis in the knee.
Viscosupplementation involves the injection of natural joint fluid (hyaluronic acid) between the two rubbing bones of the knee. The hyaluronic acid acts like a shock absorber that allows your knee to move smoother. While it won’t repair the knee joint, it does help cushion, protect and lubricate the knee. It also helps to prevent further damage of the joint. It may take several injections before you feel the effects of viscosupplementation. However, it will eventually work to reduce your overall pain and discomfort and reduce the inflammation in your knee. Viscosupplementation can provide pain relief anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the patient..
These platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are designed to help stimulate the healing of bone and soft tissue in the knee joint. When your body has a soft tissue injury, the first thing it does is send platelets to the injured area. Platelets contain growth factors and cytokines that repair tissue naturally. This treatment mimics the body’s natural process. Blood is drawn from patient and spun in a centrifuge at high speed to separate out the platelets. These platelets are then injected into the injured knee joint to start the natural healing process. Patients will typically need three injections and start to see an improvement in 2 to 6 weeks after the first injection. Some patients have reported seeing continued improvements 6 to 9 months after receiving treatment. No anesthesia or hospital stays are necessary and patients usually return to work or job duties after treatments.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is quickly becoming a popular treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee. Stem cells reside in adult bone marrow, fat, organs and tissue. The treatment is performed by injecting stem cells into the affected knee area. Known as the body’s repair kit, they have the ability to regenerate and heal the knee joint naturally. Treatments usually involve retrieving stem cells from fat tissue or Adipose and injecting them into the knee joint. This is a non-invasive procedure that is completed right in the doctor’s office. Typically, patients are able to go back to work the next day. This translates into a quicker healing process and less time off work.
Knee Replacement Surgery
Knee replacement surgery actually involves the removal of your knee joint and then replacing it with an artificial knee joint. Most orthopedic doctors will recommend this type of surgery because they don’t perform the alternative treatments. Patients typically spend several days in the hospital after surgery and will have to complete several weeks of physical therapy as part of the healing process. On average, patients take several weeks or even months off work after surgery. Risks for this surgery include reaction to anesthesia, potential for infection, blood clots and limited mobility after surgery.
When determining what type of treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee is right for you, several factors must be taken into account. Viscosupplementation, PRP injections, and stem cell therapy can all be competed on an outpatient basis. This means that you will have a faster recovery rate and will need to take less time off work. These treatments are generally less expensive than surgery and may not include the need for physical therapy afterwards. Most importantly, these treatment options do not have all the risk factors that come with surgery.
As with any form of medical treatment, you should consult with your physician before embarking on any treatment plan. The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be deemed accurate for the purposes of diagnosing your particular medical condition.