More than 43 million American adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common, and is the “wear and tear” form due to abuse and injury we put on our joints. Researchers say that genetics may play a significant role of osteoarthritis in 40-65 percent of all cases of osteoarthritis. In other words, if your parents have suffered from the effects of osteoarthritis, chances are you will too.
Being overweight plays a substantial role in developing osteoarthritis. Every pound of body weight is magnified 3 times across the joint between the femur and tibia. The knee cap joint is even more weight sensitive with weight being magnified 5 times body weight. A 150 pound person can place up to 450 – 750 pounds of pressure across the knee joint. Exercise is extremely beneficial for maintaining joints and bones. Types of exercises that are low impact are ideal for individuals suffering with arthritis. These exercises include walking, swimming, elliptical, bicycling, and water aerobics.
There are also significant differences in arthritis between women and men. Women account for more than 60% of doctor diagnosed cases of arthritis. Women are three times less likely than men to undergo knee replacement even though they suffer from more knee pain and resultant disability.
There are several forms of non-operative treatment available for knee arthritis. Ranging from low-impact exercise, weight loss, using heat or cold, supplements (glucosamine), pacing your activities, physical therapy and use of assistive devices such as a cane. Medical treatments include use of nonsteroidal medications (aleve or motrin), acetaminophen (tylenol), corticosteroids injections, viscosupplementation injections (synvisc or orthovisc), bracing, sleep aids, pain medications, and surgery. Surgical options include partial and total joint replacement.
Partial knee replacement is a great option for individuals suffering from arthritis isolated to one area of the knee joint. Partial knee replacements exist for the inner compartment, outer compartment or the kneecap joint. The most common location to develop isolated arthritis is the medial or inner compartment of the knee. In the right patient, medial compartment replacements can last as long as a total knee replacement.
Total knee replacement is a great option for those individuals who are suffering from end stage osteoarthritis and have failed the non-operative treatments listed above. Typically the pain limits the ability to performing work activities or leisure activities. In the later stages, it can even make getting a restful night sleep difficult.