Take Control of Knee Pain

The term arthritis includes a number of conditions, and many of them are suited for medical (non-operative) treatment.

The number of patients with knee arthritis is increasing as baby-boomers reach retirement age. This is due to the combined effects of active lifestyles, prior surgeries and people living longer. The great news is if you are among those with chronic, increasing pain in the knee, there are a number of things you can do to take control of this condition.

Knee pain does not always mean arthritis. There are a variety of conditions that can lead to knee pain, and if pain is your problem, it’s critical to get a competent appraisal of the condition. Usually this means seeing an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knee problems. Many conditions exist that can affect knee function and they should be considered. Oftentimes, those conditions can and should be treated without surgery.
The term arthritis includes a number of conditions, and many of them are suited for medical (non-operative) treatment. In fact, surgical treatment is only indicated after conservative treatment has been attempted. Non-operative treatments include activity modification (avoiding activities that aggravate the condition), physical therapy, injections, analgesics, braces, and other devices. Depending on the severity of the condition and individual needs and goals, non-operative treatment may help for years.
Most patients who require surgery for knee osteoarthritis have developed a deformity—either bow-legged or knock-kneed—that leads to an imbalance of the weight distribution in the knee. This imbalance leads to a progressive increase in activity-related pain. Alternatively, some patients requiring knee surgery develop inflammatory arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is just one example of this, and the process is typically a complex autoimmune disorder that results in destruction of the cartilage surfaces of the knee and other joints. For those who do require surgery, there is more good news. New surgical techniques and improvements in prosthetic design and manufacturing indicate that recovery times are getting shorter and knee replacements are lasting longer.

Preventing knee pain should include maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI). But exercise in moderation and change exercise patterns gradually. Do enough to maintain healthy muscles and cardiovascular function and have any acute injuries evaluated and treated by a trusted physician.