Arthritis Treatments

Options to reduce arthritis pain and restore mobility

Do you avoid taking stairs when you used to seek them out? Does it take time for your stiff, achy knees to “get moving” in the morning? If so, arthritis may be to blame.

Arthritis, or a painful, chronic inflammation of the joint tissue, is thought to affect over 50 million Americans, and the knee is one of the most common joints where arthritis occurs. The good news is that there are effective arthritis treatments available right here in Asheville at Carolina Hand & Sports Medicine.

What causes knee arthritis?

There are actually several types of arthritis that can occur in the knee. Although they differ in origin, the symptoms are similar: pain, stiffness and loss of mobility.

  • Osteoarthritis. Also called degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is the most common knee arthritis. It occurs when the protective layers of cartilage in the knee wear away, allowing bones to directly rub together. In advanced cases, painful bone spurs can form. Osteoarthritis is typically progressive and occurs most frequently in older adults or significantly overweight individuals.
  • Rheumatoid knee arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, damaging knee cartilage and causing the fluid in the knee to swell.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis. Sometimes, arthritis can develop months or years after an acute knee injury. For instance, if you fracture your kneecap or tear a ligament, the damage to these tissues can place extra stress on your knee that causes inflammation and pain.

How do I know if I have knee arthritis?

Common symptoms of knee arthritis include:

  • Swelling and stiffness in the knee joint that you cannot trace back to a specific injury
  • Knee pain that feels worse upon waking, after sitting for a long time, or after strenuous exercise
  • Bothersome creaking, clicking, or a feeling that your knees are locking or giving way
  • Symptoms that feel worse during rainy weather.

However, as these symptoms can also indicate other knee problems, it is important to visit an  experienced, qualified orthopedic surgeon, who can diagnose knee arthritis and help you find an effective treatment plan.

How is knee arthritis treated?

There are many good treatment options for knee arthritis available, and we can recommend a treatment based on your desired activity level, your medical history, and the severity of your symptoms.

To find the best arthritis treatment for your needs, your doctor will first perform a physical examination, checking your knee for swelling, instability when standing or walking, and any signs of injury to the bones, tendons and ligaments. We will usually order X-rays to get a picture of changes in the bone structure of your knee, which will often signify arthritis. If necessary, we may recommend an MRI.

Non-surgical treatments for arthritis

Most patients begin with one or more non-surgical treatments to ease pain and slow progression of knee arthritis. Common non-surgical methods include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Lifestyle & activity modification (i.e., switching from running to swimming or losing weight to reduce stress on the knee)
  • Bracing or taping
  • Over-the-counter NSAIDS (i.e., ibuprofen, Aleve, etc.)
  • Prescription anti-inflammatory medicines, such as A-COX inhibitors (i.e., Celebrex), or rhematoid arthritis medication
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Viscosupplementation

Surgery for knee arthritis

If non-surgical treatments are not effective for you, or if your knee arthritis is interfering with your ability to work or complete day-to-day activities, surgery may be the best option. Our surgeons are experienced in both arthroscopic and open knee surgery techniques.

If your doctor believes surgery will benefit you, they will discuss your options honestly and thoroughly so you can make the best decision for your health and lifestyle.

If you are suffering knee arthritis, our experienced staff at Carolina Hand & Sports Medicine can help you get back to a full, active and pain-free lifestyle with safe, effective treatments and personalized care.

Contact us today to make an appointment.

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