Coping with painful knees can severely inhibit one’s lifestyle or even one’s ability to remain mobile or ambulatory. There are a number of treatment options that exist to address knee pain.
Pain medications taken by mouth are often recommended or prescribed for knee pain. These include over the counter medications as well as stronger pain medicines. Oral pain medication may include steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammation drugs, and narcotic painkillers, depending upon the type of and severity of the pain being experienced.
Another type of medication which may be prescribed or recommended for pain is topical medications. Topical medications include gels, creams, and ointments which are applied to the skin. These are usually applied to the knee-joint itself or to the surrounding area, and can help to reduce inflammation, relax muscles that are contributing to the pain via tension, and through other mechanisms.
There are two types of injected medications used to treat pain. Corticosteroid injections reduce pain by fighting inflammation. These powerful pain relief injections may help reduce knee pain for months at a time. There are also gel injections which help to replace the cushioning fluid lost from the knee. These injections replace this fluid reducing the chance of bone and cartilage becoming more damaged, and reduce pain by preventing the interior workings of the joint from rubbing against one another.
Physical therapy and exercise recommended by one’s physician can help to combat knee pain by strengthening the patient’s leg muscles. The muscles of the leg can help reduce knee pain when they provide more support and stability for the joint. Sometimes these exercises may require special equipment for patients to perform them safely, such as splints or braces.
Including dietary or nutritional supplements in one’s routine can help to reduce pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin are believed by some to support joint health. Finally, being overweight can place undue strain on painful knees, and taking the necessary steps to lose weight can go a long way in reduction of knee pain.
When all of the above treatments fail to eliminate or effectively reduce knee pain, it may be time to consider surgery. Surgery for knee pain comes in two main forms: arthroscopic surgery intended to remove damaged cartilage and knee replacement surgery. Knee replacement surgery involves removing damaged bone and cartilage, or even the entire knee-joint, and replacing it with artificial joint parts (or an entire artificial joint). These artificial components are built from plastic and/or metal materials. In many cases, knee surgery can provide years of relief and may need to be done only once in a patient’s lifetime.
If surgery is recommended by one’s doctor, the patient should put forth their best effort to find the best knee surgeon available to carry out this procedure. Knee surgery can have a huge impact on a patient’s quality of life, and due to this critical importance, patients should meet with a variety of available surgeons to choose the one best suited to their needs.
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