The Latest Options in Knee Arthritis Treatment for Residents of Lafayette, LA & Surrounding Communities
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that can affect joints throughout the body, including the highly mobile and weight-bearing knee joint. This type of knee arthritis is very common, mainly because it often develops gradually along with the natural aging process. If you’re being increasingly limited by knee pain, turn to Peter D. Vizzi, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who offers both conservative and surgical treatment for knee arthritis. Dr. Vizzi’s practice is conveniently located in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Why Is Knee Arthritis So Painful?
As knee arthritis progresses, several changes can occur in and around the knee joint:
Cartilage Breaks Down & Joint Space Narrows
Cartilage loss is one of the primary markers used to diagnose knee osteoarthritis. Articular cartilage is a firm, rubbery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they come together in a joint, absorbing shock and reducing friction during movement. As knee cartilage breaks down and wears away, the space between the bones in the knee joint narrows, which can lead to painful bone-on-bone contact during daily activities such as walking, squatting, and getting up from a seated position. The rate at which knee cartilage loss occurs can vary widely among individuals, and while the deterioration can be slowed with treatment, it cannot be completely halted or reversed.
Synovial Fluid Loses Viscosity
A thick, natural lubricant that fills the knee joint cavity, synovial fluid facilitates smooth movement, separates the bones, and serves as a filter that allows for the passage of nutrients while keeping out harmful substances. As knee arthritis advances, the synovial fluid becomes thinner and loses its effectiveness as a lubricant. As a result, friction can occur during movement, which can increase the wear and tear on the knee and further contribute to cartilage loss.
If cartilage loss progresses to the point that bone-on-bone contact occurs, the body may respond by producing bony deposits (osteophytes) on the affected bone surfaces. Also known as bone spurs, osteophytes can cause joint stiffness as well as pain if they press on a nearby nerve. Bone spurs can also cause knee misalignment, a common symptom of late-stage knee osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis can sometimes trigger an immune system response that causes the capsule containing the synovial fluid (synovium) in the knee joint to become inflamed. The resulting inflammation can cause skin redness, warmth, swelling, and pain.
How Is Knee Arthritis Treated?
In its early stages, knee arthritis can often be managed with:
- Pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) taken as needed
- A routine of gentle stretches, strengthening exercises, and aerobic activities (swimming and water therapy can be particularly effective while minimizing the stress on the knees)
- Weight loss, if needed, and weight maintenance thereafter
- Bracing to support and protect the knee during certain activities
- Cortisone injections
For severe knee arthritis symptoms that are interfering with daily activities, Dr. Vizzi may discuss knee replacement surgery. In general, however, Dr. Vizzi views surgery as a last resort for addressing arthritis in the knee. His goal is to help his patients find effective relief from knee pain using the most conservative approach possible.
If you’re interested in learning more, you are encouraged to schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Vizzi at his office in Lafayette, LA. As an active athlete and skilled surgeon, Dr. Vizzi provides his patients with the benefit of his extensive experience when recommending treatment options for knee arthritis pain relief.