Arthritis

arthritis-knee-hip-treatmentArthritis is a condition characterised by progressive damage to the joint surfaces. Swelling is often present. Patients experience varying levels of discomfort, which may or may not impact significantly on their quality of life. Treatment is aimed primarily at control of symptoms, and may involve lifestyle changes, painkillers and other medicines, joint injections, or surgery if pain is severe.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Symptoms can be eased by appropriate physiotherapy to strengthen knee and hip muscles, weight loss to reduce the forces passing through the joint, soft-soled cushioned shoes, and avoidance of aggravating activities. The use of a stick, held in the opposite hand to the affected leg,  can be of great benefit. This reduces the forces passing through the joint by 50% or more, thereby easing the pain.

Painkillers are often prescribed for osteoarthritis, and can be highly effective.

Image shows (left) x-ray of arthritic hip (right) x-ray of arthritic knee

However, if these simple measures fail to help, your specialist may recommend other treatments. If the joint surfaces are still in reasonable condition, an injection of an anti-inflammatory agent (steroid, ‘cortisone’) can help. However, the benefit can be short-lived, and often an arthroscopy of the knee may be recommended.

In cases where the joint is very badly damaged by arthritis, and non-surgical treatments have failed to help, replacement of part or all of the joint may be performed