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Osteoarthritis is the most common chronic disorder that affects the joints1. It happens when the cartilage, or cushion, between the knee joints breaks down, which can cause pain, stiffness and swelling. There are many different treatment options, which you can learn about here, but you should talk to your doctor about what’s best for you.
What are knee injections?
If you no longer get pain relief from treatment methods such as ice and heat, physical therapy and pain medications such as ibuprofen, your doctor may recommend an injection. There are different kinds of injections that can help you manage your knee pain. For example:
- Hyaluronic acid injections (viscosupplementation): These help to relieve knee pain by restoring lubrication and by improving the cushioning of the synovial fluid inside the knee joint.
- Corticosteroid Injections: These help relieve pain by reducing inflammation in the knee joint, and are useful for treating flare-ups of pain and swelling with fluid buildup in the knee. They can provide rapid pain relief, but only temporarily, and last about 6-12 weeks. They should not be used frequently, as they can damage cells in the knee.
What is arthroscopic surgery?
Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive approach that can be used to diagnose and treat problems in your knee. It allows the surgeon to see inside your joint without making a large incision, and can even repair some types of joint damage:
- Removing small bits of bone or cartilage
- Repairing or removing torn meniscus
- Removing inflamed synovium (the membrane that lines the cavity of a synovial joint and produces synovial fluid)
- Removing bursae
When compared with traditional open surgery, arthroscopic surgery can help speed recovery, reduce pain and minimize scarring.
What is knee replacement?
When you start feeling like you’re missing out on life’s simple pleasures, like going for a walk with family or playing with your grandchildren, because of your knee pain, and it’s reached a point when it can no longer be controlled with nonoperative treatments, it may be time to consider having a knee replacement.
A knee replacement is a surgical procedure in which the worn surfaces of both the thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) are removed and resurfaced with metal and plastic implants, a new knee is secured, and then the supporting muscles and ligaments are checked to make sure they’re working well.
It’s become a common surgery, but because there are risks associated with any surgical procedure, and you should have a thoughtful discussion with your doctor before making a decision.
- Arthritis Foundation. Osteoarthritis. http://www.arthritis.org/arthritis-facts/disease-center/osteoarthritis.php. Accessed October 2014.
Important Safety Information
As with any medical treatment, individual results may vary. The performance of knee replacements depends on your age, weight, activity level, and other factors. There are potential risks, and recovery takes time. People with conditions limiting rehabilitation should not have this surgery. Only an orthopaedic surgeon can determine if knee replacement is right for you.