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According to research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), severe joint pain is a growing problem among aging Americans. In 2002, a survey reported that 10.5 million Americans said they had been affected by severe joint pain. By 2014, that number had increased to more than 14.6 million.
Arthritis is one of the primary causes of severe chronic joint pain in older people. Particularly in the knees, arthritis can cause pressure, swelling, stiffness, and pain even during low-impact daily activities. Arthritic knee pain may come in stages, beginning with a low ache that increases over a number of years.
Putting weight on the knee grows increasingly more painful causing the patient to reduce activity to minimize the effects. Eventually, they avoid stairs, getting up from a chair can become more difficult, and daily activity like driving to work or doing laundry is increasingly more painful.
As symptoms persist, patients generally start taking over-the-counter medications. There are also nonpharmacologic remedies, which patients can use to help reduce knee pain. Low-impact physical activity like walking, biking, and swimming can help maintain mobility and keep blood flowing to damaged or arthritic joints. Patients should always consult a physician before starting any exercise plans. In cases where nothing seems to help, and the pain lingers, it might be time to see a doctor.
Treating joint pain
Treatment of joint pain usually involves one of several methods, depending on the severity and areas affected, including activity modification, prescription medications, injections of pain and inflammation reducers, or joint replacement surgery.
“If there is pain in the knee or shoulder, we find ways to help reduce it,” says Kettering Health orthopedic specialist Dr. Atiba Jackson. “We try activity modification, which means changing how we do an activity so that it hurts less. Icing the area to help reduce inflammation and taking non-prescription medications are options as well.”
When normal, day-to-day activity is affected, the pain may become too much to manage with home remedies and over-the-counter pain relievers. Treatment may also depend on how long the pain continues.
“A good rule to follow is if activity modification and over the counter medications are ineffective, and the pain lasts for more than two weeks, that’s when a doctor can help,” says Dr. Jackson, who treats complex joint injuries to the shoulder and elbow, as well as knee replacements due to degenerative arthritis.
Figuring out next steps
When a patient comes to a Kettering Health orthopedics location, they receive a complete evaluation, which includes imaging and other tests to determine the best treatment options. Non-invasive procedures are typically explored first, but if a full joint replacement is recommended, the proper implant is chosen, and a plan is made for surgery and post-operative care.
Kettering Health orthopedics uses the least-invasive approach to achieve the maximum benefit to the patient. When the decision is made to proceed with knee replacement, you can rest assured that it is the right choice because all other options have been explored.
Kettering Health orthopedics also offers non-invasive, regenerative procedures that have proven highly effective in relieving this kind of joint pain. There are many options, so joint replacement surgery is considered the last resort. The goal is to return patients to their normal activity level with the least pain and quickest recovery time for the best possible outcome.
If your knee pain has reached the point that it’s time to see a physician, contact Kettering Health orthopedics at 1-844-228-6683 or click here to set an appointment online.