Although knee replacement surgery is often performed as a treatment for a knee which has been severely damaged in an accident, the more common reason for knee replacement is arthritis. If you are considering alternatives to knee replacement surgery, an essential point to keep in mind is while there are a number of different alternatives, they are not all equally suitable for all kinds of arthritis. The two most common forms of arthritis – rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis – require different types of treatment.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, a basic anti-inflammatory medication may help. This is especially true if your arthritis is in its earliest stages, although many people who have advanced rheumatoid arthritis also find it to be useful. The reason for this is that the pain one experiences from rheumatoid arthritis is caused by inflammation. Instead of resorting to knee replacement, an anti-inflammatory prescription medication, or even aspirin, can ease your suffering.
Osteoarthritis does not generally respond as well to this form of treatment, as inflammation is not a usual symptom in this condition. Instead, the primary factor in osteoarthritis is the disintegration of the cartilage, usually due to natural aging. If you have osteoarthritis, but do not wish to undergo knee replacement surgery, a minor surgical procedure can be performed to remove the cartilage which has disintegrated.
In both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, exercise can be a very useful aid in relieving pain. A routine of basic, low-impact exercise helps by restoring the knee’s natural mobility. When the knee is able to move more freely, the person usually experiences less pain. Exercises which stress stretching and bending of the knee, without placing undue strain on the knee, are especially helpful.
Many people who have either form of arthritis are helped by the use of water. Swimming is a beneficial routine for people who have arthritis. There are two reasons for this. First, underwater exercise is a low-impact form of exercise which assists the knees in moving freely. Second, when swimming is done in a heated pool, the heated water itself is a very soothing way of relieving pain.
Both forms of arthritis can also respond to the use of steroids. While steroids can be taken in pill form, direct injections usually work better in treating arthritis. As age, other preexisting medical conditions, and other factors affect each individual person’s level of safety in using steroids, the decision of whether or not this is an appropriate option for you should be up to the doctor who is knowledgeable about your personal situation and medical history.
Arthritis can be difficult to live with, regardless of the form you happen to have. Knee replacement surgery is a good option for many people, but not for everyone. Whether you have other health concerns, or simply prefer a less extreme manner of treatment, options are available. Your doctor can assess the specific type of arthritis you have, its severity, and other related factors, and help you to decide which alternative treatment is best for you.