Knee Osteoarthritis Treatment at Texas Endovascular
Osteoarthritis of the knee is a common joint-related condition affecting millions of Americans yearly. Without treatment, this condition can lead to severe pain, joint deformity, and limited mobility and function.
Because osteoarthritis is progressive, many viable solutions can help for short-term relief. Still, since it is a degenerative joint disease of the knee, it requires medical intervention and targeted treatment for long-term symptom relief, improved mobility, and overall knee health.
With over 20 years of experience specializing in vascular treatment, Texas Endovascular provides the most advanced and minimally invasive treatments for people in the Greater Houston Metropolitan area.
Our board-certified interventional radiologists specialize in treating knee osteoarthritis pain through a non-surgical procedure called Geniculate artery embolization (GAE) – minimally-invasive treatment that can be performed before the condition worsens to the point of needing major surgery.
Continue reading to learn more about osteoarthritis, including signs, symptoms, and effective treatment options that provide long-term relief for arthritic knee pain.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, a condition affecting the joints throughout your body.
When you have osteoarthritis, the cartilage protecting the ends of your bones wears away over time. You can experience osteoarthritis anywhere in your body, but it most often occurs in the hips, hands, spine, or knee joints.
Once you develop severe knee osteoarthritis, you can suffer tremendous pain and loss of function, limiting your mobility and activity and negatively impacting your overall health, physical activity level, and day-to-day lifestyle.
Who Gets Osteoarthritis in the Knee?
Anyone can develop osteoarthritis, but certain factors may increase your risk of developing this knee-related condition.
Specific factors that increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis include:
- Older age– your risk increases as you age
- Gender– women are more likely to develop this condition
- Bone deformities
- Past joint trauma or injuries
- Repetitive stress from joint overuse
- Metabolic diseases, including diabetes and hemochromatosis
What Causes Knee Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is caused by the loss of cartilage that cushions the knee bones. Cartilage is a type of tissue that acts as a layer between joints to allow frictionless joint motion.
When your knee cartilage wears down, the joint bone will begin to rub together directly, causing intense pain, knee joint swelling, and bone deterioration over time.
What Are the Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis causes a wide range of symptoms that can become worse with time.
Some symptoms you may experience with mild osteoarthritis are low levels of intermittent knee pain while the knee joint seems to function normally.
With moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis, 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:
- Knee pain with weight bearing and walking
- Knee tenderness, especially when touched
- Decreased range of motion and flexibility
- Stiffness, primarily upon waking or after periods of inactivity
- Pain during or after movement
- Bone spurs on or around the affected knee joint
- A grinding or grating sensation when using the knee
How Is Osteoarthritis of the Knee Diagnosed?
Osteoarthritis of the knee is usually diagnosed by clinical history and physical exam. Imaging studies such as X-rays and MRIs are used to confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of the disease.
How Is Osteoarthritis of the Knee Treated?
Treatment options for osteoarthritis knee pain typically begin with patient education regarding exercise and weight management. Patients may also need local or oral pain medications. Studies have also shown the benefit of custom-fitted knee braces.
Once your knee osteoarthritis has progressed to the level of moderate or severe, we’ll usually begin medical therapy using treatments such as:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)
- Intra-articular steroid injections
When it comes to medications for osteoarthritis, oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the most common choice. Medications in this class include aspirin, Motrin (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen), and prescription varieties such as diclofenac.
Many studies show that oral anti-inflammatory medications offer superior relief to placebos or Tylenol (acetaminophen).
Direct injection of steroids into the knee joint may help patients with moderate to severe osteoarthritis knee pain relief. While this can provide a short-term option for pain management, multiple injections over an extended period can cause adverse effects, including the progression of cartilage damage and worsening of the disease.
Additionally, some studies show that physical therapy provides superior long-term relief compared to joint steroid injections.
Some patients with medial (inner) compartment osteoarthritis of the knee may use knee braces to help with mobility and pain. 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.
Walking aids such as a cane or walker can also relieve some patients.
Osteoarthritis Knee Surgery Options
Until recently, total joint replacement was the only definitive therapy for severe knee osteoarthritis.
This major operation requires 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.
It is important to note that most orthopedic surgeons delay offering joint replacement until patients are later in life, so they only have to perform one joint replacement per knee. Performing joint replacement too early can lead to repeat surgeries, as joint prostheses only last about ten years.
Because of this, doctors now use interim therapies for moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis, including joint injections of steroids, hyaluronic acid, and newer therapies.
Minimally Invasive Osteoarthritis Knee Care with Maximum Relief
Now, we offer a middle-ground therapy option – Geniculate artery embolization.
This treatment option falls between medical therapy for mild arthritis and surgical therapy for severe end-stage knee osteoarthritis.
Geniculate artery embolization (GAE) is a new therapy for osteoarthritis based on a treatment modality that has been around for decades. It involves shutting down the blood flow to your hypervascular joint lining, known as the synovium.
During this minimally invasive procedure, the physicians at Texas Endovascular insert a small catheter into one of your leg arteries.
Then, we perform an angiogram, 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 providing long-term relief and improved joint health.
In addition to any of the above treatment options, many patients have found some relief with alternative therapies such as topical creams with capsaicin, acupuncture, or over-the-counter supplements, including glucosamine and chondroitin or SAMe. Medical research studies show conflicting results on these supplements’ efficacy.
Advanced Osteoarthritis Knee Evaluation and Care in Texas
You shouldn’t have to live with unrelenting knee pain, swelling, or decreased mobility. Get the osteoarthritis knee pain relief you need sooner at Texas Endovascular.
Our experienced and compassionate team is here to help you feel your best again. Please schedule an appointment at one of our Houston area clinics today to get the care you need.