Treatment of Arthritic Knee Degeneration Without Surgery

15 October 2021

Does your knees make a clicking sound when you walk? Do you experience pain in your knee when going up and down the stairs? Are your knees swollen knees or have stiff joints?

Many people have various misconceptions about the symptoms of knee degeneration such as thinking that it is a normal part of ageing, that it cannot be cured or that treatment must involve surgery so they choose to suffer in silence. In fact, you are wrong!

Degenerative knee osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of knee pain in modern times. There are a few non-surgery treatment options such as medication, application of appropriate aids, or taking hyaluronic acid injections. In some cases, arthroscopic surgery and knee replacement surgery (partial or total knee) is considered for people with severe degeneration of the knee or who experience very severe pain.

The various treatment options are depends on early diagnosis and timely intervention. Unfortunately, up to 80% of people with degenerative knee osteoarthritis do not seek treatment until the condition turns severe or when the pain is unbearable, so often the only treatment option left is knee replacement surgery.

Age: A Major Risk Factor

Degenerative knee osteoarthritis is a condition that results from normal ageing or degeneration. It is caused by the damage to the cartilage in the joint, which is a soft cushion that provides support to reduce the impact of weight and normal activities on the bone. The timing and progression of degenerative knee osteoarthritis depends on various factors such as genetic predisposition, natural ligament tightness, muscle strength, normal joint development, and weight.

Although degenerative knee osteoarthritis is commonly seen in middle-aged and older people, other risk factors can also contribute to knee degeneration in some young people.

"Age is the most important risk factor for degenerative arthritis, while obesity and overweight can also increase the pressue on the knee joint and lead to faster degeneration. Previous knee injuries, sarcopenia, genetic or inherited structural problems, and certain occupations that require prolonged weight bearing or standing are all risk factors for degenerative knee arthritis," said Dr Chua Hwa Sen, Consultant of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon at Sunway Medical Centre, Sunway City.

He reminded the public to be aware of the signs of knee degeneration and consult their doctors at an early stage and treat it with scientifically proven methods to alleviate the pain or slow down knee degeneration, and to not listen to hearsay or take medication to prevent it from getting worse.

Must I Have Surgery For Degenerative Knee Arthritis?

Dr Chua said the answer varies from each individual and their condition. Knee replacement surgery is simply the replacement of a broken joint with an artificial joint. The goal of surgery is to reduce pain, realign the deformed joint and restore function, so the patient can regain mobility and quality of life. Most of patients who decide to undergo artificial knee replacement surgery is because their pain cannot be relieved by medication or other treatment options and has severely affected their quality of life.

According to Dr Chua, there are two main types of artificial knee replacement surgery – total knee replacement or partial knee replacement – in which the surgeon removes some or all of the damaged cartilage and replaces it with artificial material.

New technology For Smaller Wounds and Faster Recovery

As technology and knee replacement techniques become more sophisticated, there are more options for performing knee replacement surgery, including traditional non-robotic assisted surgery or innovative robotic arm surgery.

"Knee replacement surgery has a long history, and as technology and surgical techniques mature, more people are no longer afraid of knee replacement surgery. The latest technology development is minimally invasive artificial joint replacement surgery with the aid of innovative robotic arms, taking knee surgery to a whole new level of precision.

"Through precise bone grinding, positioning and perfect implantation of the artificial knee joint, the patient's healthy bone and ligament tissues are preserved to a greater extent, pain is reduced, the patient's hospital stay and recovery time are shortened, and the patient is able to regain movement more quickly after surgery.

"There are risks associated with any surgery and the decision to proceed with the procedure needs to be assessed by a specialist doctor. In any case, knee replacement surgery has evolved to be a fairly pure and safe procedure today," he elaborated.

Knee Pain or The Result of Other Problems

Knee pain may not necessarily be caused by degenerative knee osteoarthritis, it can also be caused by other problems as the knee joint has various tissues such as cartilage, ligaments and meniscus in addition to the bone joint.

"There are many factors that may lead to knee pain, so the diagnosis cannot be made by the patient's description of the pain alone. Further diagnosis will be done in order to find a clear cause, which include factors such as the location of the pain, duration, accompanying symptoms, and the patient's age," Dr Chua explained.

He suggested that people with knee pain problems should be proactive when consulting their doctors and tell them when the pain occured, where it is located, how long it lasts and other various details in order to help them diagnose the condition better.

Tips To Keep Your Knee Healthy!

  • Maintain an ideal body weight and avoid putting too much stress or injury on your knee joint.
  • Exercise your muscles and consume more high-quality protein to improve muscle strength.
  • Take collagen and glucosamine supplements to help with cartilage production.
  • Increase calcium intake to strengthen bone density and increase bone bearing capacity.
  • Avoid standing or walking for long periods of time and use appropriate aids if necessary.

Source: China Press