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Knee transplants may be treatment for knee pain


January 11th, 2010 by Formosa Medical Travel

As osteoarthritis continues to afflict more and more Americans, sufferers turn to different treatments to ease the pain and regain mobility. Although knee replacement surgery is considered the most effective and long-lasting treatment to knee pain, an advanced procedure is being pursued by some younger patients: knee cartilage transplantation.


Osteoarthritis causes the deterioration of the cartilage in the knee. The cartilage serves as a load bearing zone and allows for flexion of the joint. Unfortunately, cartilage has poor regenerative qualities and, once afflicted by osteoarthritis, can degenerate quickly. Once osteoarthritis has progressed to an advanced stage, simple tasks such as walking can prove very painful or even impossible.


In performing a cartilage transplant, doctors first must perform a biopsy. In this minor surgery, surgeons take a sample of knee cartilage from the non-essential area — that is, the zone that does not bear weight. The biopsy is then taken to a lab, where it is cultured and grown into millions of cartilage cells.


The cultured cells are then used to replace the damaged knee cartilage, in a more-invasive surgical procedure. Once the undeveloped cartilage cells have been re-inserted, a period of about three months is necessary for them to continue the healing process and replace the damaged area of the knee.


Younger patients are more suited for cartilage transplants than older ones. Some doctors recommend that the operation only be pursued by patients in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s, while older patients should consider either partial or total knee replacement surgery.



Running shoes could exacerbate osteoarthritis


January 10th, 2010 by Formosa Medical Travel

A study published in the December 2009 issue of PM&R: The journal of injury, function, and rehabilitation concluded that the use of modern running shoes could cause damage to knee, hip, and ankle joints. The study, conducted on 68 healthy adult runners, showed surprising results.


For the study, subjects were observed using a treadmill with a motion analysis system. None of the participants had any history of musculoskeletal injury, and each was in the habit of running 15 miles per week. Each participant was required to run both barefoot and wearing typical running shoes. The results showed that running with shoes may increase the stress on knee joints by up to 38%. “There is an increase in joint torque that may be detrimental,” said D. Casey Kerrigan, MD, the author of the study.


This may serve as a call for shoemakers to redesign their products, making them more safe for runners. The study pointed to the attributes of the shoes as the possible cause of the problem, including elevated heels and raised arches. The added material in running shoes may counteract the body’s natural response to running, in the end doing more harm than good.


The increased stress on knee joints may lead to osteoarthritis if continued over a long period of time, it is theorized. However, Bruce Williams, a spokesman for the American Podiatric Medical Association, doubts this claim. “It’s much ado about nothing,” said Williams, concluding “there was an increase in joint forces, but that’s it.” The study was not designed to show a link between running shoes and osteoarthritis.



Treatments available for osteoarthritis of the knee


November 18th, 2009 by Formosa Medical Travel

Because the cause of osteoarthritis is not known, there is no immediate cure, say experts. The only option to permanently get rid of the disease is by removing it, via total joint replacement. Osteoarthritis can be the direct cause of knee stiffness, knee pain, loss of movement, and inflexibility. There are, however, treatments which can help reduce pain and delay the need for total knee replacement or total hip replacement.


Some anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Naproxen – marketed under names such as Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn, Proxen, and Synflex – can be used in pain reduction and to reduce inflammation in the short term. These drugs can be a relatively safe alternative to surgery, although they are not without their risks.


Some treatments that are growing in popularity are joint fluid therapy and hyaluronan therapy, in which injections are made into the afflicted area to help restore movement and reduce pain. These treatments – which go under a number of names, including Synvisc, Supartz, Hyalgan, Euflexxa, chicken shots, rooster juice, and viscosupplementation – can often delay the need for a knee replacement ┬áby months, or even years. Cortisone shots are also sometimes administered as treatment. However, while some patients experience improvements in their condition, others report little to no benefit.


For younger, more active patients, a procedure known as knee osteotomy is sometimes used to shift the patient’s weight to the non-arthritic side of the knee. This is a less-invasive procedure, which can often delay the need for a total knee replacement for up to ten years.


For many patients, total joint replacement surgery is often the only long-term cure for osteoarthritis. In knee replacement surgery, surgeons replace the weight-bearing portions of the bone with artificial devices. This procedure, developed in the 1960s, has evolved over the years into one of the safest surgeries performed – although complications can occur in a small minority of patients. Knee replacements can last as long as 20 years in many patients, although the life of the device is dependent on many factors, such as the patient’s activity level.


For the millions of Americans suffering from debilitating knee pain and loss of mobility as a result of osteoarthritis, there are treatments. Anti-inflammatory drugs, joint fluid therapy, and knee osteotomy are all options that patients should consider when attempting to reduce knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. However, total knee replacement remains most successful treatment for curing osteoarthritis.






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