Non-Surgical Treatment for Osteoarthritis in Houston

Enjoy Prolonged Relief from Pain Related to Osteoarthritis without Surgery

Osteoarthritis of the knee is a common disease, affecting millions of Americans. Without treatment, this condition can lead to severe pain, joint deformity, and limited mobility and function. At first, the solution would usually include weight loss, exercise, and pain control. However, because osteoarthritis is progressive, these are often temporary solutions since it is a degenerative joint disease for the knee.

With over 20 years of experience specializing in vein treatment, Texas Endovascular provides the most advanced and minimally invasive treatments for the Greater Houston Metropolitan area. Our board-certified interventional radiologists specialize in the treatment of pain related to osteoarthritis through a non-surgical procedure called Geniculate artery embolization (GAE). This procedure can be performed before the condition worsens to the point where surgery becomes the only viable treatment option. For more information about geniculate artery embolization, call us today at (713) 575-3686 or schedule your appointment using our secure online form.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis which is a  condition affecting the joints. When you have osteoarthritis, the cartilage protecting the ends of your bones wears away. You can experience osteoarthritis anywhere in your body, but it commonly occurs in the hips, knees, hands, and spine.

Once you develop severe osteoarthritis of the knee, you can suffer tremendous pain and loss of function, limiting your mobility and activity.  This takes a further toll on your overall health as may start to limit activity and decrease your exercise.

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

We can classify osteoarthritis of the knee as mild or moderate to severe. Osteoarthritis causes a wide range of symptoms that can become worse with time.

Some are the symptoms you may experience with mild osteoarthritis are low levels of intermittent knee pain and well preserved joint function and quality of life. With moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee, however, you may experience persistent knee pain which significantly breaks down your functionality, activity, and overall quality of life.

Common joint symptoms at all stages include include:

  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Decreased range of motion and flexibility
  • Stiffness, especially upon waking or after periods of inactivity
  • Pain during or after movement

When you have osteoarthritis, you might also experience a grinding or grating sensation when using your knee.

What are the treatment options for osteoarthritis?

Treatment options for mild knee osteoarthritis typically begin with patient education regarding exercise and weight management. You may also need local or oral pain medications.  Once your knee osteoarthritis has progressed to moderate to severe, we’ll usually begin medical therapy using treatments such as:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID),
  • Intra-articular steroid injections,
  • Duloxetine 

When it comes to medications for osteoarthritis, oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the top choice.  Medications in this class include aspirin, Motrin (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen), as well as prescription varieties such as diclofenac.  Many studies show that oral anti-inflammatory medications offer superior relief to placebos or Tylenol (acetaminophen).

Some patients experience symptom relief with the use of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. But medical research studies show conflicting results on these supplements’ Efficacy.

Direct injection of steroids into the knee joint may help moderate to severe osteoarthritis.  While this can provide short-term pain relief, multiple injections over an extended period of time can cause negative effects including progression of cartilage damage and worsening of disease. Additionally, some studies show that physical therapy provides superior long-term relief compared with the use of steroid joint injections.

Some patients with medial (inner) compartment osteoarthritis of the knee may use knee braces.   They can provide increased stability in more physically active patients.  Some studies show that braces give patients moderate improvement in both pain and function. However, up to 25% of patients experience brace slippage or poor fit.  Additionally, many studies show low compliance rates: only half of all patients are able to use a brace long-term. Walking aids such as a cane or walker can also provide some patients with relief.

Surgical procedures to relieve ostheoarthritis

Until recently, total joint replacement was the definitive therapy once severe osteoarthritis of the knee developed. This is a major operation, requiring hospitalization and extensive prolonged physical therapy and rehabilitation. Even in the best of circumstances, with excellent surgical outcomes, many patients suffer from continued knee pain, decreased mobility, and loss of function.

Additionally, most orthopedic surgeons delay offering joint replacement until patients are later in life so as to only have to perform one joint replacement per knee. Performing joint replacement too early in life can lead to repeat surgeries; joint prostheses only last for about 10 years. Because of this, doctors now use interim therapies for moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis. These include joint injections of steroids, hyaluronic acid, and newer therapies such as platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. In the past, intra-articular steroid injections were also popular, but growing evidence suggests this therapy could accelerate and worsen osteoarthritis.

What is Geniculate Artery Embolization?

Today, we can also offer a middle ground therapy option those that live near Houston, Texas. Geniculate artery embolization falls in between medical therapy used for mild arthritis and surgical therapy for severe end-stage knee osteoarthritis. Many patients who have failed medical therapy still won’t need surgery for several years.  In the past, doctors might perform knee joint steroid injections to tie these patients over, despite the risk of speeding up disease progression.

Geniculate artery embolization (GAE) is a new therapy for osteoarthritis even though it’s based on a treatment modality that has been around for decades. Geniculate artery embolization involves shutting down the blood flow to your hypervascular joint lining, known as the synovium.

The synovium is a vascular lining of the joint capsule. When you have knee osteoarthritis, it   becomes markedly thickened and inflamed (hypervascularity.) This leads to inflammation and subsequent worsening of pain.

During this minimally invasive procedure, the physicians at Texas Endovascular inject a small catheter into one of your leg arteries. Then, we perform an angiogram, which is a simple diagnostic test that uses x-rays to take pictures of your blood vessels.  Next, we inject tiny particles into the catheter and allow your body’s blood flow to carry them downstream to our target area, inflamed areas of your knee joint lining. This decreases the blood flow to the inflamed area.

How does GAE work?

Embolization is a therapy that has been around for many many decades. It involves shutting down blood flow down to various structures or organs. Geniculate artery embolization involves shutting down blood flow down to the inflamed joint capsule around your knee (synovium). A slender tube, known as a catheter, is inserted into an artery in your body and guided under x-ray into the artery supplying your leg and knee joint. We inject contrast (x-ray dye) during an angiogram and identify your knee joint capsule’s inflamed areas. Then, we insert very slender microcatheters into these arteries, injecting tiny particles to diminish the blood flow and relieving your pain.

What are the benefits of embolization for osteoarthritis?

Several high-quality studies have proven that most patients enjoy significant prolonged joint pain relief after embolization of the synovium.  Additionally, some research studies also show that decreasing the blood flow actually decreases inflammation, which can slow down progression of osteoarthritis. Shutting blood flow down to the inflamed lining decreases inflammation and pain–all with very little risk to your health!

This procedure has many advantages for patients near Houston. First, it’s minimally invasive. That means you have no surgical incision, and no skin stitches or staples to remove. The procedure is completely outpatient, requiring no hospitalization. You arrive in the morning and are able to go home a few hours after the procedure, resuming normal light activities the following day. We can perform embolization with mild sedation or no general anesthesia. This greatly improves the procedure’s safety profile, meaning it is very safe with very few complications. The procedure can be performed multiple times without increasing your risk of complications, helping you delay knee joint replacement surgery. In fact, many patients enjoy up to 6 months of long-term symptom relief from one embolization procedure.

The procedure is safe and effective and can be repeated if symptoms recur before you’re ready for total knee-joint replacement.

Schedule Your Appointment for GAE Treatment for Osteoarthritis Today!

If you are looking for GAE treatment for your osteoarthritis pain near the Houston area, please contact Texas Endovascular today at (713) 575-3686

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