Osteoarthritis doesn't happen overnight. It affects 10 million Americans.
"Osteoarthritis pain will come in gradually and start off very minimally - a dull toothache type of pain, a nagging, but not really much to cause them to stop what they are doing. Eventually, it gets to the point where they'd come seek the advice of a doctor," Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Jonathan Gainor said.
Knee osteoarthritis is a deterioration of cartilage. Some causes include a previous knee injury, repetitive knee strain, genetics and even aging. Primary symptoms include mild, moderate or severe pain, stiffness, limited range of motion in the knee and localized swelling.
Symptoms usually get worse following activity.
As knee osteoarthritis progresses, symptoms generally become more severe. There is no cure, so managing the pain is the goal. You can achieve this by using over the county medicines such as ibuprofen, prescription medication and injections.
"It's a steroid injection. People call it a cortisone injection, or whether it is some type of visco supplementation which is a lubricating injection that coats the surface of the damaged cartilage that gives it some better motion and decreased pain," Dr. Gainor explained.
Replacing a knee is the last option. Keeping the joints moving is important.
"Exercise is important. Low impact, aerobic activity is excellent for arthritis. It keeps the joint fluid moving around the damaged or arthritic joint, keeps the remaining cartilage as healthy as it can and that is the other important part of keeping the joint moving," Dr. Gainor said.
If you are thinking about taking supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, the studies are inconclusive on the effectiveness for pain.
"There's been some studies done in Canada that said glucosamine chondroitin works. It works similarly to the anti-inflammatories, the ibuprofen, motrin and naprosyn. So why don't we use something that has been studied and approved by the FDA that we understand you are not going to hurt yourself, by taking glucosamine chondroitin, but don't spend the family fortune in buying that stuff. It can get expensive getting supplements off the shelf," Dr. Gainor said.