Knee Arthritis Treatment
Knee arthritis (Osteoarthritis) is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. Knee arthritis develops slowly and the pain it causes worsens over time. Although there is no cure, there are numerous treatments to help. Injections called viscosupplementation may be helpful.
Viscosupplementation is typically recommended for patients whose pain continues to limit their activities after nonsurgical treatments have been exhausted. In this injection, a gel-like fluid called hyaluronic acid is injected into the knee joint. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring lubricant found in the fluid surrounding joints. Hyaluronic acid enables your bones to move smoothly over each other and it acts like a shock absorber for your joints.
Adding hyaluronic acid to your arthritic knee joint will facilitate movement and reduce pain. You may be given one to five shots over a period of several weeks. If the injections are effective they may be repeated after a period of time, usually 6 months.
Knee arthroscopy is a surgical procedure orthopaedic surgeons use to visualize, diagnose, and treat problems inside your knee. In an arthroscopic knee examination, an orthopaedic surgeon makes small incisions in the patient’s skin and then inserts pencil-sized instruments that contain a small lens and lighting system to magnify and illuminate the structures inside the knee joint.
By attaching the arthroscope to a miniature television camera, the surgeon is able to see the interior of the knee joint through this very small incision rather than a large incision needed to open the knee. Arthroscopy of the knee can diagnose and repair Meniscal (cartilage) tears, worn or injured areas of your cartilage cushion, and ligament tears.
One of the most common knee injuries is an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) sprain or tear. Athletes who participate in sports like soccer, football, and basketball are more likely to injure their ACL. ACL tears are frequently caused by:
- Changing direction rapidly.
- Stopping suddenly.
- Slowing down while running.
- Landing from a jump incorrectly.
- Direct contact or collision.
When you injure your ACL, you might hear a “popping” noise and you may feel your knee give out from under you. This injury can also be associated with significant swelling within the knee joint. Other common symptoms of an ACL tear include:
- Loss of full range of motion of your knee.
- Tenderness along the knee joint line.
- Discomfort or pain while walking.
- Pain combined with swelling. When you tear your ACL your knee will typically begin swelling within 24 hours.
NOTE: It is possible for the swelling and pain may subside on its own, but if you attempt to return to sports activities:
- Your knee will probably be unstable.
- Your risk causing further damage to the cartilage (meniscus) of your knee.
Knee Ligament Injuries
Knee ligament injuries are also very common sports injuries and can range from sprains to tears. The knee is the largest joint in your body and one of the most complex. It is also vital to movement. Three bones meet to form your knee joint: your thighbone, shinbone, and kneecap.
Your knee ligaments connect your thighbone to your lower leg bones. Because the knee joint relies on these ligaments and surrounding muscles for stability, it is easily injured. Common causes of knee ligament injuries include:
- Direct contact to the knee.
- Hard muscle contraction.
- Changing direction rapidly while running.
It is possible to injure two or more knee ligaments at the same time. Multiple ligament injuries can be severe and have serious complications.
Partial Knee Replacement
Thanks to technological advances, more people with knee arthritis are now able to benefit from partial knee replacement instead of total knee replacement. In addition to older Treasure Coast residents, partial knee replacement has grown in popularity among baby boomers. Their active lifestyles can result in wearing out their knees earlier than previous generations.
During knee replacement surgery, damaged bone and cartilage is resurfaced with metal and plastic components. In partial knee replacement only a portion of the knee is resurfaced. Partial replacements are becoming more appealing to patients due to:
- Higher patient satisfaction rates.
- Preserving more normal knee motion.
- Less blood loss during surgery.
- Quicker recovery time.
Since partial knee replacement is done through a smaller incision, patients usually spend less time in the hospital and return to normal activities sooner than total knee replacement patients. Also, because the bone, cartilage, and ligaments in the healthy parts of the knee are kept, many patients report that a partial knee replacement feels more natural than a total knee replacement.
Total Knee Replacement
- Does ongoing knee pain make it hard for you to perform simple daily activities like walking, or climbing stairs
- Do you experience knee pain while you are sitting or lying down?
- Do nonsurgical treatments like medication and using walking support devices no longer help?
- Does your knee pain affect your quality of life?
You may be a candidate for total knee replacement surgery. Knee replacement surgery is a safe and effective procedure to relieve pain, and help you resume normal activities. Improvements in surgical techniques and materials have increased the effectiveness of knee replacement surgery, in fact it is one of the most successful surgical procedures performed today.
Total knee replacement is a popular option among Treasure Coast residents and by over half a million people nationwide. There are three types of arthritis that are the most common cause of chronic knee pain.
- Osteoarthritis – which is typically age-related “wear and tear” type of arthritis. It usually occurs in people 50 years of age and older.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – which is an inflammatory arthritis. This chronic inflammation can damage the cartilage and eventually cause cartilage loss, pain, and stiffness.
- Post-Traumatic Arthritis – which can follow a serious knee injury such as a fracture.
Total knee replacement does not actually replace your entire knee joint. Only the surface of the bones are actually replaced. There are four basic steps to a total knee replacement:
- Prepare the bone, the damaged cartilage surfaces at the ends of the femur and tibia are removed along with a small amount of underlying bone.
- Position the metal implants to recreate the surface of the joint.
- Resurface the patella. The undersurface of the patella (kneecap) is cut and resurfaced with a plastic button.
- Insert a spacer. A medical-grade plastic spacer is inserted between the metal components to create a smooth gliding surface for comfortable mobility.
You may be a candidate for total knee replacement surgery if:
- Your knee has become bowed or knock-kneed due to severe arthritis.
- Your daily activities are limited due to severe knee pain or stiffness.
- You find it hard to walk more than a few blocks without significant pain.
- You need to use a cane or walker.
- You experience moderate or severe knee pain while resting or sleeping.
- You experience chronic knee inflammation and swelling that does not improve with rest or medications.
- Your knee pain and mobility have not improved after trying cortisone injections, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications or lubricating injections.
Good news! Total knee replacement surgery successfully reduces knee pain and improves mobility in over 90% of patients. After total knee replacement surgery we typically recommend that you not participate in high-impact activities such as running, jogging, jumping, or other high-impact sports. After total knee replacement surgery you should be able to enjoy unlimited walking, swimming, golf, driving, light hiking, biking, ballroom dancing, and other low-impact sports.
If you are experiencing chronic knee pain call the Orthopaedic Center of Vero Beach at 772-778-2009 to schedule an appointment. We’ll conduct a thorough examination and determine if total knee replacement might be the best option for you.