What are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis of the Knee?
The usual signs of knee osteoarthritis include pain and swelling with activity. The pain can be a deep aching pain with intermittent sharper pain. Stiffness in the joint, decrease in mobility and creaking or cracking when the joint moves are also indicative of knee osteoarthritis.
How is OA of the Knee Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis is not always simple because an x-ray will not always pick up subtle changes of the knee or articular cartilage. Dr. Mazzara will collect a complete family and medical history as well as perform a physical examination to determine the cause of knee pain. X-rays and an MRI may help Dr. Mazzara diagnose the problem in order to treat the patient. Many patients will come in with x-rays performed in an urgent care center of by their primary care physician. These x-rays often do not include specially positioned weight bearing views which are extremely important in determining the degree and location of the osteoarthritis.
What are the Treatment Options for Knee Osteoarthritis?
The primary goal of treating knee osteoarthritis is to alleviate pain and return patient mobility. Treatment can include the following:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication – used to alleviate pain and promote healing. Turmeric or other types of natural anti-inflammatory supplements may also be helpful.
- Exercise – Physical therapy that strengthens the muscles of the knee will make the joint more stable and help decrease pain. Stretching exercises help make the joint more flexible.
- Weight loss – Even a small amount of weight loss can help take pressure off the articular cartilage and decrease knee pain.
- Injections in the knee – Dr. Mazzara may use an injection of corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid into the knee. Steroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs. Hyaluronic acid is normally in the knee and helps lubricate the joint for smoother motion.
- Braces – Bracing the knee can often provide a felling of support and stability to the knee while a patient is working on strengthening exercises.
- Lateral heel wedges – for patients with loss of cartilage on the inside (medial) of the knee, or with what is called varus pattern knee arthritis, lateral heel wedges can sometimes help to reduce the stresses applied to the inner knee and decrease pain.
- Platelet Rich Plasma PRP – PRP injections may help relieve the pain from osteoarthritis.
How is Knee OA Treated with Surgery?
For advanced cases of knee osteoarthritis, where traditional non-operative measures have failed to alleviate pain or return range of motion, surgery may be a treatment option. Dr. Mazzara can use a minimally invasive surgery technique called arthroscopic surgery that uses a small camera with small instruments for operating inside the knee. Dr. Mazzara will clean out the irritated joint lining and trim away any area of meniscal tearing to smooth cartilage surfaces. Arthroscopic surgery has limitations in treating arthritis of the knee and is used only in selected cases.
Advanced and severe cases of knee osteoarthritis may require joint replacement surgery. Dr. Mazzara offers computer navigated partial and total knee replacement for patients requiring this procedure. Partial knee replacements may address medial, lateral and patellofemoral arthritis.
If you have questions about knee osteoarthritis and how to treat OA, please contact the orthopedic offices of Dr. James Mazzara, knee specialist in Manchester, South Windsor, Enfield, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford communities.