Do your knees ache? Well you may be suffering from the effects of early osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis really effects everyone and is caused by the normal, execessive wear and tear on the knee joints. This is very different from other forms of arthritis like Rheumatoid and Psoriatic arthritis which are systemic illnesses that lead to the body attacking ones own joints. Many factors may contribute to OA, including a muscle imbalance, living a nonactive lifestyle, obesity, trauma or previous meniscus injury and heredity. Although it most commonly affects people over 45, OA can also begin earlier.
Your knee joint contains a joint fluid, hyaluronic acid, which acts as a shock absorber. With time, this joint fluid tends to “dry up.” This then leads to more stress on the cartilage which can start to erode and lead to degeneration of the bones causing pain and swelling. This fluid does not normally regenerate once it is gone, but there are things we can do to help.
Lifestyle and exercise:
– PT and knee exercises:
Exercise is essential to help strengthen the muscles supporting the knee joint. Focusing on improving flexibility and strengthening your quads , hamstrings and calf muscles are important steps to help stabalize the joint and decrease the stress directly transmitted through the joint.
There is no doubt, excessive weight puts incredible forces on your joints. Weight reduction is an important part of improving overall joint pain
Massage, accupuncture, & ultrasound are just a few modalities found to be helpful in alleviating joint pain
Over the counter NSAIDS (anti inflammatories) and acetominophen are widely available medications that have found to reduce the pain from OA.
Topical anti-inflammatory creams as well as various homeopathic topical medications may also be beneficial in relieving some of your symptoms.
Natural supplements like Tumeric, Omega 3’s and Green Tea have systemic therapeutic affects that decrease overall body inflammation.
Glucosamine and Chondrotin Sulfate supplements are the “building blocks” for cartilage and some studies have shown benefits in a reduction of joint pain in patients taking these supplements
****Check with your doctor, before starting or taking any medication.
-Joint fluid treatment (Hyaluronan injections)
There are several products on the market that are injected into the joint to help “cushion” your knee so you can move and function better. Injections are given into your knee using ultrasound guidance, once a week for 3-4 weeks. Patients have been shown to get up to 6 months of significant relief after the injections. This in conjunction with a multidisciplinary program can greatly decrease your aching knees and improve function and quality of life.
Prevention is the best medicine. Earlier treatment can prevent the more serious effects of degeneration to the joint and thereby keep you moving longer and diminish future pain and possibly the need for surgery down the road.
If you or someone you know is suffering from aching knees, make an appointment to see me to see if this treatment option may be benefical for you