Understanding And Managing Knee Osteoarthritis
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Understanding And Managing
Knee Osteoarthritis

 

 

 

We never really understand how critical certain parts of our body are to our everyday life until we have a problem with them. Take your knees as an example. They get put through a lot in their lifetime: walking, running, lifting and anything else that requires movement in the legs. We don't pay them any mind until we start to get a twinge or a nagging pain then suddenly all those activities that we took for granted become a grinding misery.

 

A major problem that affects the knees is osteoarthritis. In fact the knee is the most common area in the human body to be affected by the condition. Most sufferers of osteoarthritis are middle aged or older, and nearly one in five people over the age of 45 are actively seeking treatment for knee osteoarthritis.

 


The Causes

 


The bones in the knee joint have a protective covering of smooth cartilage, but when this is worn away it becomes rough and allows the bones to rub against each other. The bones can then grow thicker in places resulting in reduced range of movement. The body will also create fluids as it tries to repair the damage and this leads to swelling in the area as well as pain.

 


Managing The Condition

 

The symptoms of mild knee osteoarthritis can often be managed by using a combination of a few treatments.

 


For pain management, Paracetamol or non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) can help. Ice or heat packs can also help with pain and reduce swelling in the area.

 


A contributing factor to knee osteoarthritis is being overweight. If you are overweight then it is definitely worth talking to your doctor about changing your diet and undertaking some form of regular moderate exercise. Whatever exercise you take up you'll want it to be low impact to avoid aggravating the knee too much, so something like swimming is a good choice.

 


Your doctor may also be able to advise you on some specific knee exercises which you can practice to improve muscle strength and joint mobility. Strengthening the muscles around the knee helps the body to support the knee joint.

 


Sometimes the pain from knee osteoarthritis is too severe for the above methods to be completely effective. In that instance your doctor may suggest steroid injections to reduce the swelling, prescription painkillers or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.

 


When To Opt For Surgery

 


If none of the previous treatments have helped with managing the condition, and your day to day living is being severely inhibited, then it could be time to consider surgery. Your doctor will be able to advise you on this but there are two main options: arthroscopic surgery and arthroplasty (knee replacement).

 


Arthroscopic surgery involves the removal or repair of damaged cartilage in the knee. It isn't always a permanent solution, but it may delay surgery for knee replacement.

 


If a knee replacement is required part, or all, of the knee joint is replaced with a metal and plastic joint. Recovery from the surgery can be lengthy, 6 weeks or more with extensive physical therapy, but the artificial knee will last for years.

 


Surgery is an option that needs to be considered carefully due to possible complications. By consulting with a surgeon you can get the best advice and decide if it is the best course of action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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