Arthritis can and should be managed non-operatively initially. The goal of arthritis care is to reduce inflammation and pain while letting you get back to living with arthritis. There is a spectrum of treatment that can and should be taken before any discussion of surgical management of your condition.
Arthritis can range from being very mild to having significant inflammation that can lead to destruction of the cartilage of your joint that can cause boney changes that cause pain and restrict movement. With this wide range of severity, there is also a spectrum of treatment. At Abilene Orthopaedic Institute, we focus on non-operative methods first and work with you to determine which treatment is best for you.
Weight Loss & Strengthening – The initial non-operative management includes weight loss, activity modification and stretching/strengthening that helps to reduce the stress on your joint and increase the functionality of the surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments. Though this may not provide the relief needed, this is always recommended despite whatever other treatments are recommended. If needed, Physical Therapy can be given to help guide an exercise regimen to improve joint functionality.
Medications – If inflammation continues, anti-inflammatory medications can be taken to reduce joint inflammation, reduce pain and improve motion. This can range from over the counter medications, prescription strength medications or gels/creams to be rubbed on the affected joint. We can help guide treatment with what is right for you.
Cortisone Injections – If the oral or topical anti-inflammatory medications, intra-articular injections with anti-inflammatory steroid medication can be given in the office. These injections work with the same properties as the other medications, but act locally within the joint. In addition to the steroid, a large amount of local anesthetic like the dentist uses doing dental procedures is also placed in the joint. This helps to provide some immediate relief but also helps localize if the pain is in the joint versus other locations. If the injection helps even for a few hours, then this injection also provides diagnostic benefits as well as therapeutic. These injections can be given up to every three months and no more than four injections a year.
Viscosupplementation – For knees, the FDA approved injection with a joint fluid replacement medication called hyaluronic acid. Some patients benefit from these injections when all other treatments have failed to provide relief.
Knee Braces – Braces can work to provide compression, support or even stability when needed. Some braces are made to offload the stress that one portion of the knee may be experiencing and transfer that to the other compartment of the knee.