Osteoarthritis of the knee can be debilitating as it causes the cartilage in your joints to wear down, making it difficult to walk or stand. If diagnostic tests such as digital imaging and x-rays show you have osteoarthritis, your rheumatologist has ways to ease your pain and prevent further cartilage damage. The use of anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy or joint replacement surgery may improve your quality of life, so it's wise to speak with your rheumatologist for rheumatology treatment options.
To restore your mobility and reduce inflammation and pain, here are seven tried-and-true treatment plans for osteoarthritis:
1. Topical Pain Relieving Gels, Creams and Ointments
This is probably the safest treatment method, with minimum risk of side effects. A topical medication to applied to the affected area may relieve your discomfort. You may find that ingredients such as capsaicin, menthol and camphor may be effective.
2. Heat and Cold
Your rheumatologist may suggest you try heat or cold therapy to relieve your pain. Some individuals find relief with warm applications, while others find ice or cold compresses to work best. Experiment with both methods to determine which works best for you.
If you prefer dry heat, use a heating pad or heat lamp. Moist heat may be more effective, and you may try soaking in a warm bath or using a moist heating pad. If you have access to a whirlpool or spa, you might try this as well. Seek approval from your doctor first, especially if you are diabetic, have circulatory problems or other health issues.
The use of a cold pack may reduce the pain by numbing the affected area. It's also effective for swelling of the knee. You may use gel cold packs which can be stored in the freezer, or use a frozen bag of vegetables on the affected area.
3. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications
While there is currently no cure for osteoarthritis, symptoms may be controlled through the use of medication. The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (commonly known as NSAIDS) are meant to reduce the inflammation that causes pain and discomfort. You should use these drugs only as directed, and report side effects such as stomach discomfort to your doctor.
4. Corticosteroid Injections
If your pain does not respond to medication, your rheumatologist may recommend a corticosteroid injection to the affected area. This is often referred to as a cortisone or steroid injection. Care must be given with cortisone injections, as excessive use may worsen the damage to your cartilage and joints. The main objective of the cortisone shot is to reduce the inflammation in your affected knee.
A cortisone injection or series of injections may provide several months or long-term relief of symptoms. The use of steroids may not be right for everyone, and only your doctor can determine if it is the best course of treatment for you.
Keeping your body in motion may help to strengthen your joints. Your rheumatologist may prescribe physical therapy sessions with a licensed physiotherapist. The therapist will devise exercises that are most suitable for you. This may include gentle hamstring stretching as well as the use of specialized equipment, such as an exercise cycle or lower body ergometer.
6. Weight Loss Program
If you are overweight, your doctor may construct a healthy weight loss regimen for you to follow. Shedding the excess weight may reduce stress to your knee joints. Your weight loss program may include sensible meal plans and dietary charges, as well routine exercise. It's advisable to seek medical advice from your physician before attempting such a program.
7. Knee Surgery
If all else fails and your doctor feels the damage is severe, surgery may be indicated. Common surgical procedures for osteoarthritis of the knee include total joint replacement or bone realignment. Joint replacement is known in medical terms as arthroplasty. With this procedure, your surgeon will implant artificial "joints" made of metal to replace your damaged knee joints.
In conclusion, follow the advice and guidelines set by your physician or rheumatologist. Lifestyle changes may help you manage your condition. Always report unusual side effects to your health care provider at once.
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