Arthritis and Knee Pain...What are my options?
Updated: Sep 14, 2022
If you are one of the over 14 million people who currently suffer from knee arthritis, you have undoubtedly noticed a negative impact on your quality of life and day to day activities. Things you have taken for granted are now a challenge, such as going up and down stairs or getting a good night's sleep without your joint aching and waking you up. You are not alone. In fact, most all of us, if we live long enough, will begin to suffer the effects for arthritis to varying degrees. Below are some of the statistics to help understand just how common this problem is.
Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder in the United States (Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, 2010).
More than 32.5 million U.S. adults have osteoarthritis (CDC, 2020).
62% of people with osteoarthritis are women (Osteoarthritis Action Alliance, 2021).
More than 22% of adults around the world who are older than 40 have knee osteoarthritis (EClinicalMedicine, 2020).
More than 14 million Americans have symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (Arthritis Foundation, 2019).
Arthritis statistics by age
60% of people who have arthritis are between the ages of 18 and 64 (CDC, 2020).
Nearly 50% of older adults who are 65 or older have arthritis (CDC, 2018).
Only 7% of people ages 18 to 44 have arthritis (CDC, 2018).
29% of people between the ages of 45 and 64 have arthritis (CDC, 2018).
The question is what can be done. Traditionally, the early approach was usually to use NSAIDS, such as naproxen (aleve), Mobic (meloxicam), Motrin (ibuprofen), or some variation. Early on, then knee may be fine at rest but patient's will notice pain with certain activities or with increased activity. They can usually take a few days of an NSAID and things will tend to settle back down to baseline.
At some point, a person will progress to a point where the pain is more persistent and the NSAIDS may not get the job done. They can affect your stomach, kidneys and blood pressure. The next option would be cortisone which can actually lead to accelerated loss of cartilage, fat atrophy, and blood sugar elevations. Sometimes, hyaluronic acid (rooster comb) shots will help mild/moderate cases, but can be thousands of dollars for only temporary relief. If all these fail, the next options are usually surgical such as arthroscopy (which research has shown is not effective long term in arthritis) and eventual replacement.
All of the traditional treatment algorithms are merely band-aids. They attempt to treat symptoms, but do not address the underlying cause, which is usually damaged tissues along with loss of tissue.
PRP is another emerging option that is also unique. It addresses the underlying issue in that the growth factors, platelets and cytokines in PRP attempt to repair damage as well as remove the inflammation. PRP is when someone draws a patients blood, then concentrates the cells responsible for healing and modulating inflammation, and they amplify the healing potential within our own body and concentrate it in an area where the cells have a hard time getting to, such as joints and tendons. The result is that many patients get relief, when other options provided none, and for a long period, when other options may only last for weeks, and PRP is safe unlike the other common options. A recent meta-analysis, found here, showed that PRP demonstrated the best overall outcome compared to steroids, hyaluronic acid and placebo for patients with knee osteoarthrosis at 3, 6 and 12-months follow-up. What's even better, is that there is no downside, unlike the other options which all have risks.
Ask your doctor about PRP or do a search to find the nearest physician to see if PRP is right for you.
I didn't cover the role of supplements in this post, but there is good data for a few supplements to help with arthritis and this will be covered at a later date
. Check out www.bluefiresupplements.com to learn more.