If you have lingering joint pain after a knee injury, it could be a sign of something more serious. You could be one of the 250 million people worldwide who suffer from a joint disease called “osteoarthritis.”
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of arthritis and the leading cause of disability – but long gone are the days of needing knee replacement surgery.
With the advancement of medicine, treatment options for OA have evolved. Now there are less invasive procedures that can better help to manage symptoms and restore function.
Below I’ve outlined details you should know about osteoarthritis and the non-invasive treatment options available.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative condition that affects the joints. OA is caused by wear and tear and is most prevalent among the weight-bearing joints. This condition can develop slowly and worsen over time.
This wear and tear arthritis can affect all joints, including the hips, hands, and fingers, but most commonly it affects the knee joint.
Many people experience some degree of OA as they age due to mechanical stress caused by the overuse of joints. For example, when athletes perform repetitive movements associated with various sports.
Osteoarthritis of the Knee
A joint is any point in the body where two or more bones make contact. The interior of a healthy knee joint contains synovial fluid and cartilage, a rubbery tissue that acts as padding between the bones.
The cartilage in a knee joint can begin to deteriorate due to age or overuse. When this happens, the cushion that once protected the bones is gone, and they begin to rub together.
This bone-to-bone contact can cause inflammation in the joint, ultimately leading to pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility.
Also known as knee osteoarthritis, this degenerative condition can impair daily function if left untreated and result in bone spurs, cysts, and further damage to the joint.
Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis Joint Disease
Osteoarthritis can affect persons of any age, but certain risk factors increase one’s chance of developing OA.
As you age, the likelihood of developing this joint disease increases. An estimated 10% to 15% of adults aged 60 and above suffer from this chronic condition.
Other common risk factors include:
- Hereditary predisposition
- Activity level
- Repetitive movements
- Bone density
If you have a family history of OA or have sustained a knee injury, you have a higher chance of developing this joint disease.
Osteoarthritis is more likely to occur in women than in men. People who are overweight or obese can influence their risk factors, as weight management can play an important role in managing symptoms.
People experiencing osteoarthritis of the knee may experience the following:
- Knee stiffness
- Pain or tenderness
- Decreased mobility
- Creaking of the knee
These symptoms may be more noticeable after exercise or when the joint is cold and in a state of rest. Many sufferers report experiencing morning stiffness or knee pain that dissipates once they get up and get moving.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of osteoarthritis, a medical professional can provide you with a diagnosis.
Diagnosis can be made through physical examination, which may include imaging such as an X-ray or MRI. Further analysis of blood or joint fluid may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
Early recognition and treatment of OA are critical to mitigating its effects.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis, so it will not go away or get better on its own. However, there are treatment options available that can effectively relieve symptoms and reduce pain.
As the population of elderly continues to increase over the coming years, osteoarthritis cases will rise too. Treatments like knee surgery can be risky and come with many potential complications.
Increasingly, people are turning to non-surgical alternatives like Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy. The primary goal of these treatments is to restore mobility and provide effective and long-lasting pain relief without surgery.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy
PRP therapy harnesses the healing power of platelets taken from your body’s own blood. Blood platelets contain potent proteins called “growth factors” that help the body heal.
Due to this high concentration of platelets, PRP therapy helps to promote the body’s healing process naturally.
The PRP process begins with blood being drawn from the patient. Then, the blood components are separated using a centrifuge, and the concentrated platelets are extracted.
These platelets are recombined with the plasma before they’re injected directly into the affected joint. Patients of PRP therapy report alleviated pain, decreased inflammation, and improved mobility.
The healing time for this minimally invasive procedure is short, allowing patients to return to regular activity immediately after.
Managing Knee Osteoarthritis
Methods of effectively managing osteoarthritis are aimed at relieving pain and returning mobility to the affected joint and can include treatments such as:
- Weight Management
- Reducing Knee Strain
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Pain Medication
Regular exercise is important in maintaining the health of your joints. By strengthening the muscles around the knee, the joint becomes more stable, thereby decreasing pain.
Though too much exercise may increase the strain on your joints, not enough exercise can be equally detrimental. It’s up to each person to find a healthy balance between rest and physical activity.
If you are overweight, even a minimal amount of weight loss may be effective in alleviating symptoms of OA. If your OA prevents you from doing daily activities, physical or occupational therapy may help.
Get Moving With Regenerative Therapy
Before you consider knee replacement surgery, consider the non-surgical alternatives. Alternative treatments like PRP may be able to provide you with the relief you are looking for.
If you think you might be suffering from the joint disease Osteoarthritis or would like more information on alternative treatments – contact us today to schedule a consultation and get moving down the road to your best health!