Do you have knee pain?  Do your knees feel unstable when walking? Do you feel grinding every time you bend your knees?

Well, if you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then you may be one of the tens of millions of adults in the United States with knee osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis is the mechanical breakdown of cartilage in the joint, most commonly affecting the knees, hands, hips and spine.  Pain is a classic symptom of knee osteoarthritis but often times people may experience a clicking or grinding sensation or instability in the joint even before the pain begins.

The good news is knee osteoarthritis does not necessarily mean you need knee replacement surgery. The following are 5 tips to avoid needing knee replacement surgery.

  1. Exercise

Studies show that exercise can be one of the best treatments for osteoarthritis. Exercise can improve pain, increase flexibility, maintain body weight and improve general mood.  Consultation with a physical therapist can often times provide the optimal exercises for your specific type of condition.

  1. Weight loss

For those individuals with osteoarthritis that are also overweight may benefit from weight loss.  The knee is a weight-bearing joint and reducing weight can decrease stress on the knee joints.  Decreasing stress on the joint can limit pain and further injury.  This may prolong the health of the knee and prevent the need for knee replacement surgery.  Both a healthy diet and exercise can help one maintain their body weight.

  1. Corticosteroid “Cortisone” Injection

Various formulations of corticosteroids exist and may be used for injection into the osteoarthritic knee joint.  Generally, they may be used for temporary pain relief.  This is typically a short-term solution but may provide a lasting effect with mild to moderate osteoarthritis.  Corticosteroid injections are typically not recommend more than two to three times per year.

  1. Viscosupplementation

This is another injection technique involving the use of hyaluronic acid.  Hyaluronic acid is a substance which is part of the normal components of the joint fluid.  The injection helps to lubricate and provide shock absorption to the joint.  This treatment is frequently covered by insurance plans and is indicated for those with knee osteoarthritis who do not get adequate relief from physical therapy and oral pain medication.

  1. Platelet Rich Plasma/Stem Cell Injection

These types of injections are innovative and the future of arthritis care.  The theory behind these injections is to slow the progression of the arthritis.  This may delay the need for knee replacement surgery.  For more information on either of these injections please see our website at: http://arthritisconsult.com/innovation-center/

Please keep in mind that despite the above mentioned treatments there will still be people who require knee replacement surgery.  However, medical and scientific technology continues to make strides to reduce the risk of and progression of knee osteoarthritis. Please stay tuned.

Ask your local rheumatologist if you suffer from knee osteoarthritis and to see if any of the above treatments are right for you.  Rheumatologists are doctors trained in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritic and autoimmune diseases.