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 by 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.