A New Way to Treat Osteoarthritis

20 November 2021

Knee pain or osteoarthritis can impact your quality of life when movement is limited due to pain. This disease common in the elderly becomes worrying when they are more willing to sit or lie down all day or when they start avoiding the stairs and walking long distances.

There are two types of osteoarthritis – primary and secondary. Primary osteoarthritis often affects the elderly due to wear and tear from their daily activities and being overweight. Meanwhile, secondary osteoarthritis occurs as a result of an accident involving the joints, bacterial infection in the liver, or due to other diseases such as gout which causes the formation of uric acid that can damage the cartilage.

Early symptoms of osteoarthritis

Sunway Medical Centre Consultant Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon, Dr Suhail Suresh said initial symptoms of osteoarthritis is when the knee feels sore when going up or down the stairs, or after doing an activity that involves rigorous movement. Those who have these symptoms should seek treatment when experiencing pain.

“However, many are unaware these symptoms are a sign of joint problem and tend to ignore it when the pain goes away. In fact, the pain will return and can get worse if the individual doesn’t get treated early,” he said.

Dr Suhail who is also the President of the Malaysian Orthopaedic Association said that individuals need to be more sensitive when they experience pain, discomfort or limited movement that lasts up to a week. In this case, the person should get checked immediately.

“A normal cartilage is between six to eight millimetres and the actual size can be clearly seen through an X-ray. If joint pain is due to ageing, an X-ray will be able to determine the condition of the knee. However, if the person often experiences pain in the thumb, is often swollen and there are other suspected causes, a blood test will be done before diagnosis,” he said.

Types of treatment

Early detection of osteoarthritis can reduce the risk of patients undergoing joint replacement surgery, but this depends on their age. Doctors will only prescribe pain medication to reduce pain if it is still in its early stages. If medicine is not effective, doctors will recommend injecting a gel to reduce friction and pain as well as wear and tear.

“Some patients say their knees don’t hurt anymore after being injected with the gel. The lasting factor of this gel depends on several factors including the degree of joint damage and the person’s movement. Some gels can last between nine months to a year while some only last for three months if pain is at level four.

“However, if pain is persistent, an X-ray will be done again and if the cartilage’s condition has worsened or if the leg is bent, patients will be given the option to undergo joint replacement surgery which will allow them to continue with their daily activities,” Dr Suhail said.

The advent of robotic technology

As one of the leading surgeons in robotic surgery, Dr Suhail said joint replacement can improve a patient’s quality of life. With the latest innovation and technology, replacing a damaged joint with a prosthetic joint can provide better results with a higher level of satisfaction.

“Robotic Assisted Knee Arthroplasty in Sunway Medical Centre provides more than 90% accuracy in prosthetic joint alignment, increasing the use of the prosthetic joint up to 25 years. It also reduces pain and recovery time compared to normal surgery.

“The robot already knows the position to make the cut allowing the surgeon to operate more accurately. The right incision allows the prosthetic joint to be inserted more precisely, ensuring patients can lead a normal life again,” he said.

Source: Berita Harian