Osteoarthritis is one of the most common conditions related to knee pain, especially as we age. This progressive condition is caused by wear and tear on our joints over time. As the largest joints in the body, our knees do a lot of the work necessary to carry weight, provide balance and allow movement. Because of this frequent use and routine stress, knee joints are especially at risk for developing symptoms leading to Osteoarthritis.
Knee joints include tissue known as cartilage, which cushion the joint, protecting it from injury. As we bend and flex the joint, bone scrapes against cartilage, wearing it down. As more cartilage is worn down, Osteoarthritis worsens. Because cartilage loss increases over time, most adults over the age of 50 are at risk of developing Osteoarthritis in their knees.
To better understand how Osteoarthritis affects the knee joint, let’s look at the anatomy of the knee.
As the cartilage is worn down, bone spurs can develop on any area of the knee joint, causing the cartilage loss to increase at a more rapid pace, causing pain, stiffness and weakness in the knee joint.
Pain — The most commonly reported symptom of Osteoarthritis. Because the disease is progressive, the pain tends to be as well. In the beginning, you will notice a minor ache from time to time, especially after climbing stairs or playing sports. Over time and use, that sporadic ache can increase from occasional flare-ups to sharp, chronic and debilitating knee pain.
Swelling — Happens when joints rub together without enough cartilage to cushion the movement. You may also feel a stinging or burning sensation.
Loss of Mobility — As Osteoarthritis increases, joints stiffen and weaken, leading to decreased mobility.
Popping or Crunching — Known as crepitus, this is especially common when rising from a sitting position, squatting, or climbing stairs or a ladder. Crepitus is a strong indicator of damaging friction.
Risk factors for knee Osteoarthritis include age, heredity, obesity, hard physical labor, injury or infection. Gender can also play a factor, with women being more likely than men to develop Osteoarthritis of the knee. Athletes also face a higher risk of developing Osteoarthritis in the knee, because of the repetitive stress on the joint. However, moderate exercise can strengthen joints, decreasing that risk.
Dr. Skaliy will discuss your medical history, as well as your family medical history, and perform several tests to diagnose the cause, source and location of your knee pain. These diagnostic tests will include:
In the early stages of Osteoarthritis, the goal of treatment is always to reduce pain and slow any further joint degeneration. Initial treatment protocols often include:
When these initial pain-relieving steps are no longer effective, Dr. Skaliy may suggest Epidural Steroid Injections to relieve inflammation and reduce your pain.
In severe cases of knee Osteoarthritis, a physician may recommend one of three knee joint surgeries, including:
All surgeries come with inherent risks, possible side-effects and unknown long-term prognosis. Because of the risks associated with surgery, Dr. Skaliy recommends minimally-invasive, nonsurgical options to treat Osteoarthritis. These treatments, including Platelet Rich Plasma therapy and Stem Cell Therapy, offer real pain relief and healing without the risks and side-effects of surgery.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) — Concentrated blood platelets, donated by the patient receiving care, are used to activate and enhance the body’s own healing ability. A small amount of blood is drawn from the patient. This blood is placed into a specialized centrifuge to separate growth factors and stem cells from the red and white blood cells. The result is a super-concentrated platelet rich plasma. The plasma is then injected into the affected joint.
Stem Cell Therapy (SCT) — A minimally-invasive treatment that promotes healing and regeneration in the affected joint. For more than a decade now, physicians have been using Stem Cell Therapy to successfully treat 65 different medical condition, including Osteoarthritis.
The majority of patients who have received stem cell treatments specifically targeted at improving function and reducing pain due to Osteoarthritis in the knee have reported amazing results, including marked improvement in function and substantial decrease in pain.
Better still, this improvement begins shortly after the initial stem cell treatment and continued to improve over time, even years after the initial treatment. This progressive increase in function and decrease in pain happens because of the unique way stem cells heal damaged cells and generate new cells, making it a proven-effective treatment for Osteoarthritis.