Patients with Osteoarthritis Have More Treatment Options than Ever Before
As the most common chronic joint disease, osteoarthritis affects nearly 30 million Americans, which is approximately 60% of all arthritis patients. Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for this degenerative joint condition, and there’s no silver bullet to treating it. However, doctors have found that a combination of treatments can provide significant symptom relief, and people now have more solutions to their joint pain than they realize.
You have choices beyond a Total Knee Replacement (TKR). Here are Arthritis Relief Center’s top 4 solutions we currently recommend to patients with osteoarthritis.
1. Low-Impact Exercises Can Prevent Stiff Joints and Reduce Pain
Despite what you might think, regular exercise actually reduces the pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis and increases the physical function of your joints. At Arthritis Relief & Vascular Centers, we’ve found a combination of exercises can:
- Increase your range of motion
- Strengthen your muscles
- Increase your endurance
- Improve your balance
Exercises such as yoga, squats, chair stands, or walking are considered low-impact activities and benefit your joints. By strengthening your muscles and improving your balance and range of motion, you can keep your joints from stiffening even further and possibly even calcifying. However, we recommend you avoid exercises such as running, jumping, or any other activity that stresses your joints, as they do more harm than good.
How much low-impact exercise do you need to keep your joints healthy? The CDC recommends either of these two options:
- 5 hours per week of moderate exercise such as cycling less than 10 mph; OR
- 75 minutes per week of “vigorous-intensity” exercise such as cycling 10 mph or more
If you think about it, that’s less than 30 minutes of activity each day. In addition, the CDC recommends combining this movement with muscle-strengthening exercises, stretches, and balance activities two or more days per week.
2. Managing Your Weight Can Lessen Joint Pain and Improve Function
Your body has certain weight-bearing joints that hold most of our weight when standing. These include the ankles, hips, lower back and spine, and the knees. Thus, the more weight you put on these joints, the harder they have to work. That’s why losing weight can significantly reduce the wear and tear on your joints.
What’s the best way to achieve this? We recommend a combination of the exercises described above and a responsible diet. Since we aren’t diet experts at Arthritis Relief & Vascular Centers, you should schedule an appointment with a certified dietician. Such a professional can help you create and manage the right diet for your body type and metabolism. But in general, integrating more fruits, vegetables, lean meats such as chicken and fish, and whole grains and avoiding saturated fats, trans fats and added sugar will be a good start.
3. Knee Braces Enable You to Enjoy the Activities You Love
Did you know that there are knee braces specifically designed for arthritis patients? We offer these devices at Arthritis Relief & Vascular Centers, and with this assistance, many of our patients can actually return to their favorite activities like playing tennis or their morning jogs.
Rather than supporting muscles like a conventional brace, these knee unloader braces support your bones and joints. Specifically, they support the medial compartment joint, the most common knee joint where arthritis occurs. Your muscles will function normally when wearing this support. Because of this, you don’t have to worry about muscle atrophy when wearing them for longer periods of time.
4. Medication and Knee Injections Can Provide Significant Relief
The above self-management strategies combine to provide significant relief of symptoms. However, for that extra “oomph,” some patients seek other options, including over-the-counter and prescription medications for daily relief, while others choose knee injections for months of symptom relief.
There are six main knee injections used to relieve arthritis:
- Cortisone injections: The most common type of knee injection, it reduces joint pain with a corticosteroid, a powerful anti-inflammatory
- Viscosupplementation: Restores hyaluronic acid, the active ingredient that protects your joint cartilage
- Amniotic tissue: Placental tissue injections that possess powerful healing, anti-inflammatory, and pain-reducing qualities
- Platelet-rich plasma: Involves injecting a concentrated number of platelets within a small amount of plasma into a painful joint, tendon, or ligament to promote healing
- Stem cells: Form of regenerative medicine using stem cells from bone marrow to heal joints, tendons, or ligaments
- Alpha-2-macroglobulin therapy: Slows joint breakdown by blocking the production of chemicals that wear away cartilage
As you can tell, each shot is different, and each can affect each person differently. You can read more about these knee injections on our website, or you can schedule a consultation with Arthritis Relief & Vascular Centers to discuss which one is right for you.
Don’t let osteoarthritis control how you live your life! We have many patients who have implemented these tactics and experienced significant long-term relief of their knee pain.