Do you feel an ache whenever you simply bend your knee a certain way? Does your knee joint feel stiff or creaky? If so, these could be early signs of the degenerative joint condition known as osteoarthritis, which is usually called just “arthritis.” Osteoarthritis literally means bone (osteo) + joint (arthr) + inflammation (itis).
Whether we’re getting older or we participate heavily in a high-impact sport, our knees can develop arthritis due to “wear and tear.” Repetitive use of specific joints can irritate and wear down the cartilage, your body’s natural shock absorbers. As a result of this progressive degeneration of joint cartilage – particularly in your knees – you may begin to experience symptoms such as pain, swelling, or a reduced range of motion in these joints.
Although most people who have osteoarthritis of the knee are older, the condition can also affect active individuals of practically any age. Indeed, young people who ignore the early indicators of arthritis can cause the condition to become a lifelong, chronic issue.
Regardless of your age, knee pain warrants a medical evaluation by an expert orthopedic doctor. Let’s talk about what can happen if your osteoarthritis goes untreated, and where you can go in Raleigh and the Triangle area for a swift assessment and treatment that works to improve your knee arthritis symptoms.
Can I Ignore Knee Arthritis?
Osteoarthritis will not go away with rest, icing, massage, or other joint treatments that are typically associated with aching muscles and joints. If you ignore the pain and stiffness, it will likely only get worse and lead to a more serious problem, including disability of the knee.
Unlike other reasons behind joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis doesn’t affect your organs or otherwise make you feel ill. However, it can diminish your mobility, thereby negatively impacting your quality of life.
If left untreated, knee osteoarthritis can lead to a host of health complications, including:
- Bow-leggedness (curved-out knees)
- Osteonecrosis (unhealthy bone)
- Stress fractures
- Bleeding in the joints
- Deterioration of the tendons and ligaments around the knee joints
- Reduced productivity
- Weight gain
- Sleep disruption
Treatment Options for Knee Osteoarthritis
The good news is that there are numerous treatment options for osteoarthritis of the knee which are designed to help you control and alleviate your pain and improve your mobility. These treatments include the following:
- Physical therapy – Designed to help you stay limber and maintain a healthy weight
- Low-impact exercises – Which help strengthen the knee joints through exercises such as swimming and walking
- Support braces – A knee brace can help stabilize your knees
- Corticosteroid injections – Physician-administered nonsurgical injection directly into the knee to help reduce swelling and to relieve pain
- Viscosupplementation injections – Physician-administered nonsurgical injection of hyaluronic acid to help provide extra lubrication in the knee joint
- Prescriptions – Anti-inflammatory pain-relief medication to decrease swelling and pain
- Surgery – Once the knee is bone against bone, and conservative treatments no longer work, a minimally invasive total knee replacement surgery or partial knee replacement surgery is the definitive treatment for end-stage arthritis. Knee joint replacement surgery is done to relieve your knee pain and restore your physical function.
Knee Osteoarthritis Relief in Raleigh, North Carolina
If you’re looking for lasting relief from the pain, swelling, and limited mobility that comes with osteoarthritis, consult with expert orthopedist Dr. Brett Gilbert. Dr. Gilbert is board-certified in orthopedic surgery and completed advanced fellowship training in hip and knee replacement surgery, and he can evaluate your condition and provide a variety of nonsurgical and surgical treatment options – depending on the severity of your condition.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Gilbert, call our friendly staff today at (919) 788-8797 or fill out our convenient online request form now to arrange your appointment. We look forward to seeing you and helping you enjoy a more pain-free lifestyle!