As today’s active baby boomers are confronted with knee, hip, and other joint pain, they are not content to “sit out” the rest of their lives. Osteoarthritis can affect younger patients as well and with modern alternatives available, joint replacement surgery need not be the first choice they undertake.
Since Arthritis Awareness Month is upon us, it is an ideal time to learn more about osteoarthritis and look at some arthritis treatments to try before resorting to joint replacement.
Causes Of Osteoarthritis
As we get older, 1 in 2 adults will develop the symptoms of osteoarthritis, or OA, according to the Arthritis Foundation. The cartilage that acts as a cushion between our bones breaks down causing pain, swelling, and stiffness in our joints. The bones rub and grind against each other causing pain and reduced function.
Surgery should not always be your first choice. If you prefer to try other treatments before joint replacement surgery is necessary, look for three requirements. Any alternative should:
- Prevent injury
- Reduce inflammation
- Preserve your cartilage
There are some initial things anyone can try to keep their joint intact.
Medications like acetaminophen and NSAIDS anti-inflammatories help with mild to moderate OA to relieve pain. Talk to your doctor about side effects and use.
Lose some weight. Even losing a moderate amount of weight can reduce the stress on your joint, especially the knee, hip, and ankle. Although this is more successful in younger people, every pound lost reduces 3-5 pounds of pressure on joints.
Muscle strengthening and conditioning can be helpful. Since muscles are shock absorbers, maintaining muscle strength reduces stress on the joints.
Exercise is helpful especially when utilizing a variety of strength training, aerobics, and Tai Chi. Keep moving as even walking can be beneficial if done consistently. Water sports are also beneficial to improve function in the knee and hip.
Arthritis Treatments In the Seattle Area
Some of the following alternatives are common treatments. Not all are covered by insurance, and a few are experimental, so it’s important to consult with your orthopedic doctor:
Hyaluronic Acid Injections
Hyaluronic acid is found naturally in the body and it is used to lubricate the joint. It reduces inflammation in the lining of the knee joint, improves mobility, and lasts approximately six months.
These injections help almost everyone in varying degrees, and usually last a few months before another injection is needed.