At Slocum Center in Eugene, Oregon, our orthopedic surgeons specialize in arthritis of the knee. The Slocum Center has been providing patients with highly specialized knee care for over forty years. That means your care will be provided by a team whose goal is to restore your strength and mobility through experience, dedication, and continuous research.
The term arthritis literally means "joint inflammation." However, the term is most often used to describe the gradual age-related process of articular cartilage wear and degeneration.
Arthritis occurs in many forms, but some of the most common types are:
- Osteoarthritis (OA): This is the most common form and represents the gradual degenerative wear of articular cartilage. It occurs with increasing frequency with age and the knee is the most common major joint afflicted. Genetics play a role in its development.
- Inflammatory arthritis: This group includes diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. These conditions attack the cartilage and synovial tissues of joints and can affect multiple joints simultaneously.
- Crystalline arthritis: Gout and pseudogout are among the conditions in this group. These are metabolic diseases that lead to deposition of crystals in the joints that can subsequently cause inflammation.
- Traumatic arthritis: Direct injury to the joint surface or fractures that extend into a joint can cause damage leading to arthritis over time.
There is no proven treatment to date that will prevent osteoarthritis. However, obesity is a common contributing factor and weight loss is a critical component of its management. Individuals with OA should exercise regularly but avoid high-impact activities such as running. Dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals, herbs and glucosamine are popular treatments but lack robust scientific data to support their efficacy at this time. Rheumatoid arthritis can be controlled through medications that inhibit the inflammatory process. Similarly, gouty arthritis can be controlled medically and through dietary changes.
Early stage OA is treated conservatively using a multimodal approach to reduce symptoms of pain, stiffness and swelling associated with the condition. Lifestyle changes such as diet, weight loss, exercise and avoidance of aggravating activities are helpful. Low impact exercise such as swimming or cycling is recommended to improve flexibility and strength. A cane (in the opposite hand), brace or shock absorbing shoes can be used to reduce joint stress. Applying heat, ice, liniments and elastic bandages may be appropriate. Medications such as acetaminophen and NSAIDs can reduce pain, but check with your physician first to determine if they are medically appropriate before using. A series of injections called viscosupplementation may be an option. This treatment provides temporary relief of pain by lubricating the worn surfaces in the knee.
Surgery may be appropriate for more advanced arthritis. Arthroscopic surgery may be used to remove loose fragments of bone or cartilage that cause locking and mechanical symptoms. A procedure to realign the knee bones, called an osteotomy, is sometimes used in younger, heavily active patients with localized arthritis in one part of the knee.
A partial or total knee arthroplasty (joint replacement with artificial components made of metal and specialized plastic) is reserved for those with advanced degenerative arthritis who have not experienced success with less invasive measures and are appropriate candidates based upon health and age.