The National Library of Medicine states that 10% of people over 55 in the United States have disabling knee osteoarthritis. If you are one of these people, finding the right treatment can be challenging, especially if you don’t want to become dependent on pain medications or go through an invasive knee surgery.
For some, surgery can be the only option, but for many others, some management strategies and less invasive options could offer relief from symptoms.
What Is Knee Osteoarthritis? Understanding the Symptoms and Causes
Osteoarthritis of the knee occurs when the cartilage in your knee joint starts to break down. This causes the bones to rub together, leading to stiffness, swelling, and pain that can interfere with your life.
Women are more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis, as are people over the age of 40, but genetics and other factors can cause it in younger people.
Pain is the most common symptom of this condition, but there are other signs, including:
A puffy or swollen knee
Hearing a grinding or cracking noise when you move
Knee that locks up or feels stuck
Knee that feels wobbly
There can be many causes of knee osteoarthritis. Having a body mass index of 30 or more puts pressure on your knees and can cause inflammation. This inflammation can lead to arthritis or make existing arthritis worse.
You can also develop this condition if you suffer a knee injury or have a prior knee injury. If you have close relatives who’ve had knee osteoarthritis, you’re also more likely to struggle with this problem.
If you frequently put stress on your knees, whether by playing sports or as a result of your job, you can also develop osteoarthritis in your knee.
Treating Knee Osteoarthritis
If you have signs of osteoarthritis, there are a number of treatment options you can talk to your doctor about.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
If you have risk factors that can increase your chances of developing knee osteoarthritis or if you already have the condition, ensuring your weight is healthy is vital. The Arthritis Foundation states that being just 10 pounds overweight can put 15 to 50 pounds of extra weight on your knees. That makes the development of osteoarthritis more likely.
Losing weight allows you to reduce some of that strain on your knee joints. Aside from that, losing weight also helps reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can help with arthritis.
Getting Regular Exercise
Those who have knee osteoarthritis can also benefit from getting regular exercise. It can help you lose weight, increase your mobility, and build up muscle strength to support your knee joints.
It is important to choose low-impact aerobics options that are suitable for your health level. These can include:
Riding a stationary bike can be very helpful for maintaining strength in the hamstring muscle groups without putting extra pressure on your knee. It’s best to have a doctor or physical therapist at your side to help you put together an exercise plan.
Using Medications for Pain and Swelling Relief
For people who are dealing with a lot of pain and swelling, one option is to turn to medications. Over-the-counter painkillers are one option, and many of them offer anti-inflammatory properties that help with the swelling that might be impeding you from moving freely.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, as well as acetaminophen for those who can’t take NSAIDs, can be helpful for osteoarthritis pain.
If these aren’t effective, there are prescription options your doctor could recommend. These may include opioids and even injectable steroids for people with severe inflammation.
Prescription medications can cause side effects. Because they don’t actually do anything to heal your body and only help you manage the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, the moment you stop taking them, the pain and inflammation will usually return.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy uses the platelets in your blood, which have clotting abilities and can stimulate many healing processes.
By separating the platelets from the other components in your blood, like white blood cells, red blood cells, and more, and concentrating them in the liquid portion of your blood, you can give the treatment area a boost of growth factors. These growth factors encourage the healing process.
Stem cell therapy uses stem cells gathered from your fat or bone marrow to stimulate the regeneration of damaged tissue. Stem cells have endless regenerative powers, and they’re able to transform into the exact type of cells you need.
Regenerative medicine offers the chance to decrease inflammation in the area, allowing blood to flow more freely and bring with it oxygen and nutrients. Less inflammation can also mean less pain because you aren’t putting as much pressure on nearby nerves.
Another benefit of regenerative medicine is that it is minimally invasive, so you don’t have to worry about a long recovery period. Most people are good candidates for this type of procedure as well.
In severe cases, surgery may be the only way to treat knee osteoarthritis. You can get arthroscopic surgery, which is less invasive because it uses an arthroscope. This is a small camera that guides the surgeon in repairing the damaged area.
A total knee replacement can be another option. It can be done as minimally invasive or open surgery, depending on your overall health.
Stem cell therapy can still apply as a post-surgery option to help speed up recovery and manage inflammation and pain during the healing process.
Getting Relief from Knee Osteoarthritis Symptoms
If you are struggling with knee osteoarthritis, getting relief from the inflammation and pain can mean considering all available treatment options. By turning to your doctor, you can make sure you have the best chance of achieving the help you deserve.
Orthopedic rehab is a type of rehabilitation designed to help people who have been injured, had surgery, or have degenerative conditions. Its goal is to aid patients in regaining mobility, balance, and function in their musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic rehab also focuses on finding ways to alleviate pain.
If you have suffered an injury or gone through surgery, or if you have a degenerative condition that affects your mobility, orthopedic rehab could be the right option for you. But what can it help with, and what can you expect from the process?
What Conditions Can Orthopedic Rehab Help With?
Orthopedic rehab is a conservative treatment that can benefit patients of all ages who are suffering from issues that affect their range of motion, joint flexibility, muscle strength, and body function.
It can help with conditions like:
This type of rehab is usually essential for those recovering from joint replacement surgeries and similar procedures. It can also help with pelvic floor issues.
Orthopedic physical therapy is important after certain surgical procedures, including those like:
Rotator cuff replacement
This type of rehab can help to normalize your gait, improve your range of motion, and even prevent excessive scar tissue buildup.
It’s also helpful for people who’ve suffered a chronic injury. A chronic injury is damage that occurs over time, generally because of small movement patterns that lead to repetitive injuries to your bones, joints, or tendons. Tennis elbow or carpal tunnel are examples. With rehabilitation, you can learn how to move without injuring yourself.
Benefits of Orthopedic Therapy
Orthopedic therapy helps increase your mobility. Mobility can be limited after an operation, while recovering from an injury, or when dealing with degenerative diseases. This type of therapy utilizes stretching and exercise strategies to slowly increase your range of motion.
Orthopedic therapy also helps with pain management so that you don’t have to rely as much on pain medications. Therapists can massage the treatment area, increasing circulation and decreasing inflammation. Some orthopedic therapy options use ice packs for dealing with inflammation and heat packs for loosening tension.
Better blood circulation, which orthopedic therapy helps with, also brings oxygen and nutrients to the treatment area. This makes it easier for injuries to heal.
You can also help avoid re-injuring yourself. Therapy assists by teaching you to move safely while also showing you how to gain strength in the area.
Types of Treatments Offered in Orthopedic Therapy
When you turn to orthopedic therapy, you can benefit from a few different types of treatments.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Orthopedic therapy often relies on thermotherapy (heat therapy) and cryotherapy (cold therapy) to treat musculoskeletal swelling and pain.
Electrical stimulation can help diminish pain. With E-stim, your therapist attaches a device to the treatment area. The two main types of devices they may use include TENS, which uses low-voltage electrical currents to offer pain relief, and NMES, which sends electrical impulses to the nerves.
You will get an exercise plan that helps you increase mobility, strength, and balance. You will get a chance to practice them with the therapist so that you can then repeat them at home.
Soft Tissue Manipulation
Soft tissue manipulation is a kind of manual physical therapy in which your physical therapist massages your ligaments, fascia, and muscles. It helps optimize muscle function while also decreasing tension. It may also be effective at improving blood circulation.
Laser or Light Therapy
Low-level lasers and light therapies can help with muscle performance. They have the potential to reduce muscle fatigue and help tissues repair after an injury.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy uses the growth factors in your blood to encourage healing at the treatment area. It’s an option that often complements other orthopedic therapies.
What an Orthopedic Rehab Plan Can Look Like
The orthopedic plan your healthcare provider recommends will consider your injury, overall health, abilities, and goals. You will have a personalized and unique program that your team can adjust as you progress through it.
The first step is to determine whether you can benefit more from an inpatient or outpatient orthopedic rehab program. In more complex situations, inpatient care is usually the right choice, while outpatient options are better suited for minor injuries.
Most patients start each rehab session with physical therapy. These sessions can last between 30 and 60 minutes. Those with more serious issues can begin lying on an exam table while the therapist performs some passive exercises. You may then have to perform the same exercises on your own.
Your therapist may then continue to show you more stretches and exercises to incorporate into your home routine. Some of the exercises may even rely on weights or bands.
Orthopedic rehab also focuses on helping patients perform everyday tasks. If you have trouble walking, the session can involve relearning how to do this correctly to avoid falls and further injuries. If you have had a joint replacement, you may relearn to walk with the support of the therapist before moving on to walkers and other devices.
Patients who need to improve grip strength will likely spend a significant amount of time in the session practicing grabbing things of increasing weight.
For patients who have degenerative diseases, balance exercises are particularly useful. They can help the patient better understand where their body is in space. Some of these exercises can include standing on one foot and raising or lowering a foot or knee.
Getting the Care You Need
Orthopedic rehab offers the chance to regain your strength, balance, range of motion, and more after suffering an injury or going through surgery. It is also useful in the process of managing degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.
Treatment of injuries and damage to organs and other tissues as a result of the aging process or conditions has often relied on managing symptoms. By offering painkillers and steroids, healthcare providers can keep you more comfortable, but they are not targeting the cause of the problem. This means you have to keep relying on medications. One option more people are exploring is regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy. This type of regenerative medicine offers the chance to treat the underlying cause of the issue so that you can achieve lasting relief. In this article we will discuss how does stem cell therapy work?
What Is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy utilizes stem cells, which are those that create specialized cells. They can regenerate damaged or dying cells. Although you retain stem cells throughout your life, the aging process can make them less effective. This aging can lead to injuries that don’t heal completely, causing chronic pain and many other problems.
The goal of stem cell therapy is to amplify your body’s natural healing processes. To do this, it relies on stem cells.
In stem cell therapy, these cells are often harvested from the patient’s own body or from donors, and then administered to the affected area or systemically. The goal is to encourage tissue regeneration, repair damaged cells, and promote healing. Stem cells can differentiate into the specific cell types needed to replace or repair damaged tissues, making them a promising treatment for a wide range of conditions.
Stem cell therapy is a less invasive option than many other therapies. It requires the removal of stem cells from fat or bone marrow and then the injection of the prepared stem cells at the site of the damage. This not only makes it a viable option for those who can’t undergo surgery, but it also means the recovery process is shorter.
Another benefit of stem cell therapy is that it helps reduce inflammation. When you get injured, your body responds by causing inflammation to prevent the spread of damaging agents while also helping remove pathogens and cell debris. Inflammation also helps prepare the area for the repair process.
In some instances, however, inflammation doesn’t go away, leading to chronic pain. Inflammation also makes it more difficult for the wound to heal because the area is not receiving enough blood.
Stem cell therapy helps reduce this inflammation, allowing oxygen and nutrients to make their way to the damaged area. Less inflammation results in less pain.
Stem cell therapy is also a quick procedure. It can be done as an outpatient option, and it doesn’t require general anesthesia. Because most people benefit from adult stem cells, the procedure also avoids the need to worry about rejections or allergic reactions.
What to Expect from the Stem Cell Therapy Procedure
The first thing you will need to do is reach out to your healthcare provider to see if you are a good candidate for stem cell therapy. Your provider will go through your medical history to see which types of stem cells you can benefit the most from. The kind of condition or injury you have will impact this choice.
If you’re using your own stem cells, your healthcare provider will collect a sample from your bone marrow or fat. They then process them in a laboratory to isolate and concentrate them. In some cases, the process can involve centrifugation, filtering, and other options to help collect the highest number of stem cells.
The next step is receiving the stem cells, which can take place intravenously, with an injection, as well as other administration techniques.
After you receive the stem cells, your healthcare provider will monitor you to ensure there are no complications. They will also schedule follow-up phone calls to monitor how you are doing post-treatment.
Most people can get right back to their daily activities with some minimal post-treatment guidelines without having to worry about long recovery times.
Available Stem Cell Treatments
How does stem cell therapy work & what are the available treatments? Stem cells can help treat a variety of conditions. It’s helpful in treating cartilage regeneration and osteoarthritis because the stem cells can differentiate into chondrocytes, which are cells that maintain cartilage.
It’s also an option that can help with scar reduction and wound healing. For this procedure, stem cells derived from fat cells are a good option. They can help with tissue regeneration, potentially leading to healing chronic wounds and even the prevention of scarring.
Stem cell therapy is also a good choice for neurodegenerative issues. It can help replace neurons and provide neuroprotective benefits, potentially leading to slowing down the disease’s progression.
Stem cell therapy may also target ligament and tendon injuries, which are common in people who are very active. This type of therapy can help speed up the recovery process and might even be able to prevent the development of chronic pain issues that can affect mobility.
Another way stem cell therapy is able to help is by treating autoimmune diseases. Most autoimmune diseases are impacted by inflammation, so an option like stem cell therapy, which helps reduce swelling, can be helpful.
Choosing Stem Cell Therapy for Lasting Results
Stem cell therapy offers hope for the treatment of many types of conditions. By targeting the cause of pain and chronic injuries, like inflammation, you can avoid relying solely on pain medications, which only mask symptoms. Stem cell therapy makes it possible to have available options to help manage orthopedic injuries, neurodegenerative conditions, and much more.
If you want to learn more about how does stem cell therapy work and not sure whether stem cell therapy is a good option for your needs, speak with a regenerative medicine specialist. They can let you know if you are a good candidate.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive joint disease that occurs as a result of the cartilage that cushions the bones wearing down over time. Currently, it is estimated that over 500 million people worldwide are affected by OA.
Clinical OA studies have shown that when the condition is linked to metabolic syndrome, OA often results in more significant joint damage and overall disability. Additionally, these studies have also demonstrated a link between metabolic syndrome and OA, including a higher likelihood of dyslipidemia – an imbalance of lipids including cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, (LDL-C), triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
In this single-arm, open-label, prospective, non-randomized pilot study, Liu et al. evaluated the efficacy and safety of pentosan polysulfate sodium (PPS) for dyslipidemia and knee OA-related symptoms.
PPS has exhibited potential treatment benefits for OA in previous studies. Specifically, animal models have shown PPS to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels while also exhibiting anti-inflammatory properties. These studies have also demonstrated that PPS demonstrates properties that might be related to the treatment benefit for OA and dyslipidemia and could potentially improve plasma lipid levels, clinical assessments, and cartilage metabolism.
At the conclusion of this study, the authors observed a statistically significant decrease in LDL and a significant reduction in knee OA-related symptoms, including joint-related pain and stiffness.
The findings of this study showed promising treatment effects of PPS for improving dyslipidemia and clinically observed symptoms related to knee OA (including knee pain, stiffness, and disability). Although this study found that PPS significantly reduced blood levels of total and LDL cholesterol in humans (a finding previously confirmed in animal models), the authors also pointed out that no significant change was found in the primary outcome of triglyceride levels.
While PPS, when administered in a dose of 10 mg/kg, was demonstrated to be safe and well tolerated, the authors point out that this was the first known study investigating the efficacy and safety of oral PPS in people with dyslipidemia and knee OA.
Liu et al. also highlighted a few limitations of this study, including the small sample size of 38 participants which limited the interpretation of any treatment effect in the context of such variations. Other confounding factors identified in this study included various lifestyle changes that occurred over the course of the 26-week study.
The authors also pointed out that, while significant reductions in pain subscales were observed, the changes were similar in magnitude to changes observed over similar periods on the placebo arm of recent placebo-controlled knee OA pharmacological randomized clinical trials (RCTs).
To further validate the findings of this study, Liu et al. call for a larger RCT with an appropriate control group.
The authors conclude that oral treatment with PPS demonstrated treatment effects to improve dyslipidemia and clinical symptoms related to knee OA and that further studies in this area are necessary.
Arthritis can take away some of your favorite activities and make daily living very uncomfortable or even painful. When it comes to managing this condition, there are certain triggers that you should be aware of.
Find out what parts of your diet might be contributing to your osteoarthritis symptoms. You can take control of your pain and minimize it once you have this important knowledge.
The Science Behind Arthritis
There are two main types of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease and is different from osteoarthritis. On the other hand, osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of joint cartilage.
Your bones are surrounded by a fleshy material called cartilage, which provides them with cushion and flexibility. This is what allows you to move around, bend down, and absorb impact when you’re walking or running.
Many people call osteoarthritis a “wear and tear” disease because it often results from overuse and strain on your joints. Aging is a leading cause of osteoarthritis — your body can only maintain healthy joints for so long.
After many long years of movement, your joint cartilage can start to disintegrate. Some people develop bone spurs that harden and cause lots of discomfort.
Once your bones lose the support and cushion of cartilage, you may experience joint stiffness and pain. Your mobility may suffer, making it hard to complete normal daily activities. Osteoarthritis can be debilitating if left untreated.
Food, Inflammation, and Osteoarthritis: What’s the Link?
You might be wondering how your diet can affect your joint pain. The things you eat (or don’t eat) can have a strong impact on your overall comfort levels, especially if you struggle with arthritis symptoms regularly.
Certain foods contain inflammatory compounds that promote swelling and discomfort in your body. If you already suffer from osteoarthritis, this extra inflammation will cause more pain and discomfort, which can worsen existing mobility issues.
On the other hand, some foods contain anti-inflammatory compounds that help fight inflammation and discomfort. These are the foods you want to regularly incorporate into your diet.
Learn which foods to avoid if you suffer from osteoarthritis so you can remain comfortable and active around the clock.
Avoid High-Sugar Foods and Drinks
Foods and beverages with high sugar content are known for their pro-inflammatory effects. Refined sugars cause your body to release compounds called cytokines, which have inflammatory effects on your cells and tissues. This can worsen your joint pain from osteoarthritis.
Additionally, inflammation may contribute to further breakdown of the cartilage between your joints. If you want to protect your health while living with this condition, avoid packaged and processed snacks and drinks that have high sugar content.
Some examples of high-sugar foods and drinks include:
Sweetened coffee drinks
Avoid these foods to increase your comfort and decrease your osteoarthritis symptoms.
Simple Carbs: White Bread, Rice, and Other Refined Foods
Along with added sugar, simple carbohydrates are found in many “white” foods. This means that foods like white bread, white rice, and potato chips are loaded with simple carbs that could contribute to worsening symptoms.
Simple carbohydrates affect your body differently than complex carbs, which are good for your health. Similar to refined sugars, simple carbs have pro-inflammatory effects and can lead to rapid weight gain. The more you weigh, the more pressure your joints have to deal with every day.
Avoid simple carbs and opt for whole-grain foods like brown rice instead.
Saturated Fat Causes Weight Gain and Joint Strain
Foods that are high in saturated fats are bad for your health. Many researchers and medical bodies believe that eating a diet high in saturated fats exponentially increases your risk for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
When you eat too much saturated fats, you’re likely consuming more calories than you burn. This can cause you to pack on extra pounds that are detrimental to your health. Excess weight puts strain on your joints and cartilage, which makes osteoarthritis symptoms far worse.
Opt for healthier fats instead from sources like:
Nuts and seeds
These sources of fat will benefit your health and help you avoid debilitating osteoarthritis symptoms. Look into an anti-inflammatory diet to potentially help.
Don’t Overdo the Fast Food and Fried Treats
Eating fried foods is never good for your heart health, joints, and waistline. While these foods can be enjoyed in moderation, it’s important to prioritize home-cooked meals over fried and fast foods.
Fast food is often high in simple carbs, saturated fat, and sodium. These compounds contribute to inflammation and weight gain, which, in turn, causes more joint pain and discomfort. Many people with osteoarthritis experience more joint pain and stiffness the day after eating fried and fast foods.
Instead of eating foods fried in oil, try baking foods like vegetables and fish with a light coating of olive oil spray. This will reduce the amount of calories in your meal and help you avoid fried treats — a win-win situation for your joint health.
Limit Your Dairy Intake
Dairy has been a part of the standard American diet for many years. However, eating too much dairy in one sitting can spell bad news for your health. Osteoarthritis can flare up if you eat excessive amounts of dairy from low-quality sources.
When dairy is mass-produced, it goes through a process called pasteurization. This process removes many harmful bacteria that can get into raw cow’s milk, but it doesn’t eliminate the inflammatory compounds.
Human digestive tracts were not originally designed to break down lactose, a key compound in cow’s milk. Other compounds in cow’s milk can worsen your health as well. This means that when you have a condition like osteoarthritis, it’s best to limit your dairy intake.
Managing Your Life with Osteoarthritis
Making dietary changes can significantly improve your quality of life if you’re living with osteoarthritis. While you can’t always avoid developing this condition, you can live a satisfying life and manage your symptoms.
If you want to protect your health and reduce the amount of strain on your joints, consider avoiding these common osteoarthritis triggers.
Currently, 1 in every 4 adults suffer from chronic knee pain; this represents a 65% increase over the last 20 years. While knee pain can be caused by several causes, including meniscus tears, tendinosis, sprains, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus, osteoarthritis (OA) remains the most common contributor to this condition.
In this study, Lee and Padgett evaluate the use of the peptides BPC157 and thymosin-beta-4 (TB4) for the treatment of knee pain. Specifically, as part of this study, 17 patients received peptide therapy consisting of BPC157 or a combination of BPC157 and TB4 injections for their knee pain.
It is estimated that the human body has nearly 300,000 peptides. These peptides consist of chains of amino acids that range from 2 to 100 amino acids in length. One specific peptide, BPC157, when isolated, has demonstrated restorative properties that have helped in the repair of tendons, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and bone fractures. BPC157 has also been found to promote recovery from traumatic brain injury (TBI), reduce blood clots, and protect the liver.
Because of its reported acceleration of recovery from ruptured tendons, BPC157 has also become a favored therapeutic option by athletes looking to speed up the healing of their injuries. Prior to this study, no study using BPC157 in humans has been published, nor has this peptide received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in the United States.
TB4 is FDA-approved and a naturally occurring peptide that originates in the thymus gland. TB4 possesses a range of healing and regenerative properties, including accelerating recovery from skin wounds, TBI, stroke, and multiple sclerosis. TB4 has also been shown to reduce inflammatory markers and pain.
The patients involved in this study either received only an intra-articular injection of BPC157 or a combination of both BPC157 and TB4 injections.
As a follow-up, and as part of this retrospective study, the author followed up with patients between 6 months and 1 year after receiving peptide injections in their knee. Of those receiving only the intra-articular injection of BPC157, 91.6% reported significant improvements in knee pain while 75% of patients who received both peptides showed significant improvement.
While treating knee pain with BPC157 and TB4 has demonstrated potential for future therapeutic options, the author calls for additional larger studies to better understand improvements in structural changes and increased collagen production in patients with OA-induced knee pain.
Lee concludes that this retrospective study demonstrates that BPC157 has been shown to help reduce knee pain and have prolonged effects lasting over six months, a significant benefit when compared to the documented short-lived results of steroid treatment. Source: “Intra-Articular Injection of BPC 157 for Multiple Types of Knee Pain.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34324435/.
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