Knee replacement is an extremely effective treatment for patients with knee arthritis. It is however major surgery, with some risks, which your surgeon will always discuss with you before deciding to proceed to surgery. Non-operative treatment is an important part of managing knee arthritis. A number of treatments are available to reduce pain and improve function. Non-operative treatment is also helpful in helping patients decide when they are ready for surgery. Here we’ll look at some of these treatments and how effective they are.
Study finds steroid injections don’t speed up progression of OA
Steroid and other injections are often used. There have been concerns that steroids can damage the joint and that they may lead to surgery being required sooner. Previous studies had suggested that steroid injections could actually speed up the progression of the disease.
A new study looking at this has found that steroid injections for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis do not hasten the need for a knee replacement. This study, carried out by the Boston University School of Medicine, revealed steroid injections don’t speed up the progression of OA.
This latest research included two large cohort studies. It followed those with knee OA who were receiving either hyaluronic or corticosteroid injections. Rates of radiographic progression, X-Ray visible joint damage and total knee replacements were analysed. A total of 792 knees were analysed, with 647 patients undergoing corticosteroid injections. The other 145 patients were receiving hyaluronic injections.
The study found that patients undergoing Hyaluronic injections were more likely to have a knee replacement. However, patients receiving corticosteroid injections didn’t show any signs of radiographic progression and did not have an increased risk of needing a knee replacement. The authors concluded that steroid injections don’t speed up the progression of OA like previously suggested.
Understanding non-operative options
In patients with osteoarthritis, a total knee replacement is typically used as a last resort. There are many non-operative treatments available which have shown to have huge success at treating the condition.
Physical therapy has shown to provide clinical benefits to those with knee osteoarthritis. A new study has shown that after a year of physical therapy, the majority of patients had less pain and better mobility.
Another thing that can help patients is weight loss. In those who are overweight, the additional weight can put a lot of pressure onto the joints. Studies have shown that overweight patients suffering with knee osteoarthritis, often experience pain relief and enhanced mobility when they lose weight.
Shockwave therapy (ESWT)
This is used increasingly for patients with tendon problems. A recent study has shown that ESWT can also be effective in helping patients with knee arthritis. They looked at patients with arthritic knees and resulting deformity. Interestingly, ESWT was shown to decrease pain in up to 95% of cases and improved the function of the joint. This study raises hoe that this treatment modality may help patients with knee arthritis.
As you can see, there are a lot of non-operative treatments available for patients suffering with knee OA. The new findings in these recent studies confirm the role of non operative treatment and where these modalities fit in, helping patients to achieve relief, without going under the knife.