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Navigating Knee Osteoarthritis: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Fri, Feb 23, 2024

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a common and often painful condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Although knee OA can be difficult to navigate, understanding the signs, symptoms, and various treatment options can help you manage the condition and maintain an active lifestyle. You can learn more here about how to recognize the signs of knee OA, when it may be time to see a knee specialist and the treatment options that are available to manage the condition effectively.

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition in which the cartilage covering the surfaces of the bones in the knee joint breaks downover time through wear and tear. As the cartilage breaks down, it can cause the bones in the knee joint to rub together, causing friction. This can result in pain and other symptoms in the knee. Some of the common signs and symptoms of knee osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain in the knee, especially after inactivity or excessive use
  • Stiffness or decreased range of motion in the knee joint
  • Swelling in and around the knee
  • Grinding or cracking sound in the knee when moving
  • Difficulty climbing stairs, walking, or engaging in other daily activities

If you’re experiencing these signs and symptoms, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Nonsurgical Treatments for Knee Osteoarthritis

While surgery can provide significant relief for knee osteoarthritis, nonsurgical treatments are often the first line of defense. These methods aim to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve mobility:

  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can design a tailored exercise program to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee, enhance flexibility, reduce pain, and improve balance.
  • Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the stress on your knee joint, slowing the progression of OA and relieving pain.
  • Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers and Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: Non-prescription medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen can help manage pain and inflammation.
  • Prescription Medications: Your doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs if over-the-counter options aren’t effective.
  • Injections: Corticosteroid or hyaluronic acid injections can provide temporary relief from knee OA pain and inflammation.
  • Assistive Devices: Using devices such as knee braces, shoe inserts, or canes may help to provide support, reduce pain, and improve mobility.

Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment for knee osteoarthritis. With the right treatment plan, it is possible to manage the symptoms of knee OA and maintain a good quality of life.

When to Consider a Knee Replacement Doctor

Although conservative treatment options such as physical therapy, pain relievers, and assistive devices can help many individuals manage the symptoms of knee OA, some people may require more invasive measures like surgery. A total knee replacement surgery, or sometimes a partial knee replacement surgery, is the definitive treatment for advanced arthritis. This type of surgery is done to relieve knee pain and restore physical function andmay be a suitable option if:

  • Nonsurgical treatment methods have not provided adequate relief from pain and other symptoms
  • Your knee joint is significantly damaged or worn down due to osteoarthritis
  • You have difficulty with daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs, or standing for prolonged periods
  • Your quality of life is substantially affected by your knee pain and discomfort

In these cases, consulting a knee replacement doctor and discussing the possibility of a total knee arthroplasty or partial knee replacement may be the best course of action.

Understanding the Knee Replacement Procedure

Knee replacement surgeryinvolves removing the damaged cartilage and bone from your knee joint and replacing it with artificial components that mimic the structure and function of your natural knee. This procedure can significantly reduce pain and improve mobility, allowing you to regain an active lifestyle.

There are several types of knee replacement procedures, which include:

  • Total knee replacement: Also known as a total knee arthroplasty or a full knee replacement. This is the most common type of knee replacement surgery, involving the replacement of the entire surface of the knee joint.
  • Partial knee replacement: Also known as unicompartmental knee arthroplasty, this procedure replaces only the damaged portion of the knee joint, preserving the other healthy parts of the joint.
  • Minimally invasive knee replacement: This technique uses smaller incisions and specialized instruments to perform the surgery, resulting in a faster recoveryand less post-operative pain. A minimally-invasive approach can be used for both partial and full knee replacements.

After knee replacement surgery, you will likely need to participate in a rehabilitation program that may include physical therapy, exercises, and other treatments to help you regain your strength and mobility.

Choosing a Knee Replacement Doctor

Finding a skilled and experienced knee replacement doctor is critical to achieving the best possible outcome from your surgery. When researching potential knee replacement doctors, be sure to:

  • Assess their credentials, education, and experience in performing knee replacement surgeries.
  • Check for board certification and other professional affiliations.
  • Read reviews and ask friends, family, or your healthcare provider for recommendations.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask questions during your consultation with a potential knee replacement doctor. This is an excellent opportunity to discuss any concerns or expectations you may have about the procedure.

Knee osteoarthritis can be a challenging condition to navigate, but understanding the signs and symptoms, as well as your treatment options, can help you manage the condition effectively. If you are experiencing significant knee pain and other symptoms, consulting with a knee replacement specialist may be a suitable option for you. With proper care and rehabilitation, knee replacement surgery can provide long-term pain relief and improve your quality of life.

Knee Replacement Specialist in Raleigh, Apex, and Durham NC

If you are experiencing symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, visit board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brett J. Gilbert for expert care. Dr Gilbert specializes in minimally invasive muscle-sparing knee replacementsand partial knee replacements and a wide range of treatment options for knee osteoarthritis. He will assess your condition and provide you with the guidance and information you need to make an informed decision about your treatment and recovery.

Don’t let knee osteoarthritis hold you back from living an active and fulfilling life – take control of your health today. Call our office at (919) 788-8797. You can also request an appointment with Dr. Gilbert using our appointment request form, or you can self-schedule your appointment here.

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