ValleyOrtho’s physicians utilize both surgical and nonsurgical techniques to treat patients who are suffering with pain or loss of mobility due to knee osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis of the knee results from a progressive breakdown (“wear and tear”) of the articular cartilage covering the joint surfaces on the lower end of the thighbone (femur) and the upper end of the lower leg bone (tibia) and/or the backside of the knee-cap (patella). Gradual loss of this cartilage increases the joint friction, and in extreme cases allows bone to rub against bone. In both cases, pain, swelling and stiffness are common symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Some arthritic change is normal and expected as we age however, severe knee arthritis can interfere with activities of daily living and can limit one’s lifestyle.
While nobody is certain what causes arthritis, several things may contribute to its development:
- Family history
- Problems with joint development
- Minor repetitive injures with overuse
- Poor muscle support around the joint
- Poor alignment
- Severe trauma to the joint
While being overweight does not necessarily cause arthritis, it can contribute to early joint problems that can worsen quickly. Weight loss can often decrease the pain intensity by decreasing the amount of load placed on the hip.
- Pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis is often the most intense first thing in the morning or after a period of inactivity (such as sitting for a long car or plane ride or a movie).
- Swelling associated with osteoarthritis is often worse after a period of increased activity.
- Weakness in the leg muscles is due to compensations from the pain.
Diagnosing knee arthritis will begin with a physical exam and a thorough medical history. During the physical exam, the knee experts at ValleyOrtho will palpate for areas with tenderness, pain or swelling and will measure knee range of motion and muscle strength. Depending on the findings of the history and exam, lab tests and/or imaging tests may be ordered to help make or confirm a diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis.
Some options for nonsurgical treatment of knee arthritis include:
- A physical therapy program to optimize the joint and muscle function at the knee
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Orthotics to correct poor alignment
- A brace to unload the area of the knee affected by osteoarthritis
- Weight management to minimize added stresses to the knee
- Knee injections such as cortisone, hyaluronic acid, and platelet rich plasma (PRP)
There is no cure or current technique to reverse osteoarthritis of the knee. The knee specialists at ValleyOrtho, alongside our physical therapy team at Valley View, can create a treatment plan that will minimize pain and long term damage to the knee joint.
If non-operative treatments fail and knee pain persists interfering with daily activities, work and/or sleep, the best option may be a total or partial knee replacement. This procedure substitutes an arthritic or damaged joint with an artificial joint called a prosthesis. The prosthesis is tailored to each patient’s needs and is designed to move just like a healthy human joint. Physical therapy following total or partial knee replacement is crucial for optimal recovery. Total or partial knee placement is an important treatment option for relieving pain and restoring normal function.
Our orthopedic knee specialists realize that arthritis can have a devastating effect on our patients’ lifestyle and interfere with everyday activities. We are committed to developing complete, customized treatment plans to accommodate our patient’s individual needs.