Most doctors recommend and use the same medications over and over. Is this the best treatment for your knees?
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There are a number of ways your doctor can help you manage knee arthritis. One approach is to use anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Another option would be to have a corticosteroid injection into the knee joint, which reduces inflammation and swelling. You could also try hyaluronic acid injections, which help cushion joints and relieve pain; physical therapy; weight loss if you are overweight; or low-impact exercise such as swimming and bicycling (no impact).
The most common treatment for knee arthritis is cortisone injections. These are given by your doctor to relieve pain, stiffness and swelling in the joint. Cortisone shots can be used to treat various types of arthritis – not only osteoarthritis but also rheumatoid and psoriatic conditions.
The procedure involves injecting a small amount of medicine into the knee, which helps reduce inflammation, ease pain and improve mobility.
Cortisone injections are generally safe when performed by an experienced physician who understands how much medication should be administered based on your symptoms and condition; however, there are some risks associated with them as well. My main concern is that they don’t treat the underlying issue and have actually been shown to make arthritis worse.
Hyaluronic acid injections
Hyaluronic acid injections are a common treatment for knee arthritis. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance that lubricates joints and helps them move smoothly. It can be injected into the knee to temporarily relieve pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis.
However, hyaluronic acid injections – and they are usually given as a series of injection – aren’t permanent solutions. If they provide much relief, they only last three to six months before a patient needs another round of injections.
Anti-inflammatories are a common treatment for knee arthritis. They can help reduce pain and swelling, but they don’t cure the disease.
Anti-inflammatory drugs work by blocking or reducing the production of certain chemicals that cause inflammation in your body. The most common anti-inflammatory medications are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, celecoxib and others; or steroidal anti-inflammatories like prednisone.
Weight loss can also help relieve knee pain. The additional stress on your knees from carrying extra weight can cause inflammation and pain, so losing weight may reduce this burden.
To lose weight, try to eat less and exercise more. For example:
- Eat fewer calories than you burn each day through physical activity (like walking) or normal daily activities (like standing). This will result in a negative energy balance where your body uses more calories than it takes in through food intake; that’s how you lose weight!
- Choose foods high in fiber and protein rather than simple carbohydrates like sugar or white flour products like breads/crackers/pasta.
Low-impact exercise or no impact exercise
High-impact exercise is often not recommended for people with arthritis because it can cause pain and injury. If you’ve been told that high-impact activities are too painful for you, try low-impact or no impact exercises instead. Examples of low-impact activities include walking, swimming and cycling at a moderate pace on flat ground. Examples of no impact activities include yoga and tai chi–both of which involve gentle stretching without any jarring motions or sudden stops or starts.
If you have knee arthritis, talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for your specific needs. There are many different types of treatments that can help relieve symptoms of arthritis and keep it from getting worse.
Also, it’s important to understand we are making a lot of progress on the treatment of osteoarthritis. There are a number of treatments that are on the horizon that look like they might be safer and more effective than cortisone shots or standard anti-inflammatory medications. It’s important to talk to your doctor about all your options to try to relieve your pain, avoid surgery, and return to the activities you love.
We are looking for 5 patients with knee pain who want to get significantly better in the next 30 days, without cortisone shots, physical therapy, or surgery. Click this link and enter the term ‘Interested’ in the description box to learn more.