Treatment Options for Advanced Knee Osteoarthritis

Several forms of arthritis can affect the knees, but by far the most common kind is osteoarthritis, which is also referred to as “degenerative joint disease.” It occurs when the cartilage on the joint’s surface begins to wear down, exposing the raw bone beneath. The cartilage mainly plays the role of a “shield” in the joint and under normal circumstances, its bearing is quite slick. When the bearing starts to wear away, the result is a rough surface that becomes stiff and uncomfortable.

For most people who suffer from mild knee arthritis, the condition can be managed with simple measures like joint injections, strengthening exercises and rest. However, if the pain becomes severe, the patient is unlikely to respond to these kinds of interventions. Fortunately, healthcare professionals are continuously seeking new ways to treat advanced knee osteoarthritis. Some of the treatments they’re currently offering include the following.

Knee Replacement Surgery

Total and partial knee replacement options are most common and involve removing the entire or a portion of the damaged cartilage and bone. Implants are substituted for the knee joint to restore the full function and range of motion of the knee. These implants are usually manufactured out of plastic, and each one is customized for the patient to offer maximum comfort. Their weight-bearing surface is smooth, like in a healthy knee, with a patellar component covering the other side of the kneecap, a tibial element covering the upper side of the shinbone, and a femoral component covering the thighbone’s end. The procedure is expected to provide mobility for at least a decade or two in the majority of patients.

Prolotherapy

Prolotherapy, also called regenerative injection or proliferation therapy, runs on the concept of enhancing inflammation to reduce the severity of osteoarthritis. It involves injecting an irritant directly into the knee joint, which leads to an uptick in inflammation on a temporary basis. The increase in inflammatory response enhances blood flow and stimulates repair of damaged cartilage as well as the surrounding tissues. Dextrose is the most commonly used irritant in this procedure, but substances like phenol and lidocaine may also be considered by a prolotherapy specialist. Physicians are increasingly opting for injectables to treat osteoarthritis and alternative options such as stem cell treatments and prolotherapy to the more conventional hyaluronic and corticosteroid acid shots.

Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES)

NMES or Neuromuscular Electric Stimulation makes use of a device that transmits electrical impulses to the knee joints’ nerves. However, the input spans to the muscle tissue around the joint, as well. NMES can offset the impact of disuse while increasing range of motion and strength. It is often recommended for re-educating or re-training a knee joint to build strength and function after a period of disuse or invasive surgery. NMES can be applied to the muscles that lift the knee joint at the right time during the pain cycle, which can help the patient to clear and raise the knee when standing up. Also an essential advantage for recovery and mobility, NMES can strengthen the exterior muscles of the knee.

Knee osteoarthritis can’t be stopped, but there are several effective ways to manage this chronic condition. Treatments can be less or fully invasive. The right procedures will address the damaged part of the joint and may renew your mobility while lessening inflammation and pain.