Knee arthritis

Non-surgical treatments for knee arthritis

As we outlined in our first knee arthritis post in this three-part series, there is no cure for knee arthritis, so beware of ‘miracle cures’ that claim otherwise.

If you have knee pain and think it might be knee arthritis, getting treatment can still reduce pain and minimize or delay long-term damage.

There are many non-surgical treatments for knee arthritis, and your orthopedic doctor should first consider the most conservative approaches. This may include rest, avoiding vigorous or weight-bearing activities, and the use of anti-inflammatory medicine.

Your doctor may also recommend occupational therapy or physiotherapy for your knee arthritis, which includes exercises and heat treatment. Depending on the severity of your knee arthritis,

If your symptoms warrant, your doctor may recommend a cane or a knee brace or an injection of cortisone into the knee joint. This is very helpful to relieve pain an allow for other treatments such as physical therapy and exercise.

Exercise is essential for knee arthritis treatment because it increases joint lubrication and strengthens surrounding muscles, which reduces stress on joints. Exercise in a heated pool can bring enormous pain relief and improve range of motion. Many studies have shown that exercise helps people with knee arthritis by reducing pain and stiffness and increasing flexibility, and muscle strength.

Treatment of osteoarthritis focuses on decreasing pain and improving joint movement, and may include:

  • Exercises to keep joints flexible and improve muscle strength
  • Many different medications are used to control pain, including corticosteroids and NSAIDs. Glucocorticoids injected into joints that are inflamed and not responsive to NSAIDS.
  • For mild pain without inflammation, acetaminophen may be used.
  • Heat/cold therapy for temporary pain relief
  • Joint protection to prevent strain or stress on painful joints
  • Surgery (sometimes) to relieve chronic pain in damaged joints
  • Weight control to prevent extra stress on weight-bearing joints

When conservative measures have been exhausted and are no longer helpful, and if your knee arthritis has become disabling, surgery may be recommended.  The type of surgery will depend on your age and severity of the disease. In the elderly with severe knee arthritis, joint replacement can give good results.

Read more information on arthritis treatment or learn about surgical options.

knee arthritis

Will it snow soon? Why your knee arthritis lets you know and how it impacts your joints.

Did you know that in the past 60 years, it has snowed on either Halloween or November 1st a whopping 41 times? While it looks like we’ll buck the trend this year with forecasts in the 70s for both days, winter is still coming! Maybe you can even feel it. Are you one of those people who can tell when a storm front is coming into Colorado even before the local weatherperson can? If so, you know that increased pain from knee arthritis serves as a pretty consistent weather barometer!

It is, in fact, the barometric pressure that causes many sufferers of knee arthritis (or any other arthritis) to feel more joint pain as the pressure changes and a weather pattern moves in.

But what is that pain actually doing to your joints? In the first of a three-part series, we’ll examine how knee arthritics impacts your joints, provide non-surgical treatment options, and look at the option of knee replacement surgery and rehabilitation.

What is knee arthritis?

Arthritis is joint inflammation that causes pain, swelling and stiffness. Knee arthritis is a particularly common form of arthritis and can be especially painful and can really limit your ability to be active because of the load-bearing nature of the knee joint.

While there are multiple types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the knee. Osteoarthritis causes the knee cartilage to slowly wear down, and as this happens, it becomes damaged and rough. It’s known as a degenerative condition because the ongoing wear on your cartilage causes it to degenerate and eventually wear away.

Eventually there is no more cushion left between bones, and the bone-on-bone friction causes a great deal of pain as well as bones spurs.

What causes knee arthritis?

Osteoarthritis is typically causes from wear and tear on the body. This can be exacerbated by overuse or injury, and is more prevalent in patients who also have rheumatoid arthritis. When knee arthritis develops, it’s usually in both knees. It’s also more common among after age 40, and also among women, especially after age 50.

In the event of a knee injury, it’s referred to as posttraumatic knee arthritis. When the knee is injured, makes the joint less stable which often leads to additional wear and tear that, over time, turns into arthritis.

Can you cure knee arthritis?

There is not a cure for knee arthritis, but it’s still imperative to get treatment. There are many treatment options that contribute to the two most important things: 1. Reducing pain so that you can be active. 2. Minimizing or slowing the long-term damage to your cartilage and bone.

If you have knee pain and think it might be knee arthritis, learn about non-surgical treatment options, or contact our office to schedule a consultation.

Rotator Cuff Tear

Not just an athlete’s problem: rotator cuff tears are more common than you think

 

Although also a common injury among athletes, rotator cuff tears are actually most common in people over 40; and age, in addition to family history and repetitive motion activities, are the top risk factors for a rotator cuff tear.

The injury is also a frequent topic of discussion with baseball and tennis players, who use repetitive arm motions that put these athletes at greater risk for a rotator cuff tear. However, even if you don’t play sports, other elements of your active lifestyle could be to blame.

Many jobs that involve physical labor and a repetitive motion – such as painting and carpentry – put wear and tear on the tendons, which can lead to degeneration and injury.

Surprisingly, not all rotator cuff tears cause pain or performance issues and some people are never diagnosed or treated. But for many others, shoulder pain or weakness is the first indication that something might be wrong. Discomfort typically increases with activity, and in particular movements that bring the arm above the shoulder. Oftentimes the only symptom may be pain when sleeping.

Your local orthopedic specialist can diagnose a rotator cuff tear by doing a thorough history and physical examination and considering your family and activity history. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and will examine your shoulder and neck areas for tenderness, range of motion, strength and other indicators of a tear. Skilled orthopedics can rule out other issues such as arthritis or a pinched nerve. Your care team may also use diagnostic tools such as ultrasound, or MRI, which can often detect the size and location of a tear, which cannot be detected by X-ray.

Rotator Cuff Tear Treatment: An individual approach is key

Once a tear is confirmed, it’s time to focus on treatment options. “Every rotator cuff tear is different,” says Dr. James Ferrari, Advanced Orthopedic physician and shoulder specialist. “Our team of specialists focuses on a solution that maximizes the success for each patient, and gives them the best opportunity to get back to being active as soon as possible.”

In most cases, treatment for a rotator cuff tear means looking first at non-surgical options such as anti-inflammatory medication, ice, and local steroid injections, followed by a regimen of stretching and physical therapy. Partial thickness rotator cuff tears have the best chance of success with non-operative treatment. If non-surgical options do not provide relief, surgery may be the best option. Once a rotator cuff tear is a complete, full-thickness tear, it will not heal on its own. Full-thickness tears in younger patients almost always require surgery. Over time, full-thickness tears do get bigger, and surgical success is much better in smaller tears.

Rotator Cuff Tear Surgery

If surgery is necessary, many tears can now be repaired with an arthroscopic procedure, which is less invasive, allows for a more thorough evaluation of the entire shoulder during the procedure, and often provides for an easier, although not necessarily faster recovery. Your orthopedic specialist will provide you a comprehensive evaluation of the surgical options that can address your individual rotator cuff tear.

Rehabilitation

After surgery, proper rehabilitation is of paramount importance. It is a slow recovery as the tendon has to heal into the bone before active motion can begin. Overly aggressive rehab after surgery can be a cause of failure. In general, it is 6 months before the patient is cleared for all activities.

Prevention

Prevention of rotator cuff tears and recurrent injuries begins with proper stretching and strengthening. Maintaining full motion, especially internal rotation (being able to reach up behind one’s back) helps prevent impingement of the rotator cuff by the overlying acromion bone. Strengthening the anterior and posterior rotator cuff muscles keeps the shoulder in the socket so the deltoid doesn’t overpower the rotator cuff. Other exercises to strengthen the chest and back also help balance the shoulder and prevent impingement.

Whether you have surgery or not, you may prevent a full blown rotator cuff tear by using proper form when exercising or competing, and by ensuring you incorporate rest into your routine if you are in a repetitive use situation at home or work.

Above all, if you have shoulder pain, get it check out so that you can get a diagnosis and limit further damage. Schedule an appointment with Dr. James Ferrari or one of our other shoulder specialists.