We all know that keeping active is one of the key ingredients to living a healthy life, but when knee pain interferes with normal activity and prevents exercise, it is time to act and seek medical help.
If you are suffering with knee pain, a visit to an orthopaedic surgeon can help. The surgeon will determine if the pain is caused through injury or a more long-term issue, such as osteoarthritis. This is the most common form of arthritis, and is characterised by inflammation and ‘wear and tear’ damage to the knee. It develops over time, and can sneak up on you. When symptoms first appear, much of the damage has already been done.
The process of damage and wearing out of the joint cartilage surface eventually results in the bone grinding on bone in the knee, which is a painful and disabling condition. Up to 25% of people with knee arthritis will retire early due to the pain it causes. There are several risk factors for osteoarthritis, including your genes, lifestyle factors, previous injuries, hypermobility and obesity.
Symptoms of knee osteoarthritis The predominant symptoms of knee arthritis are pain and stiffness, which lead to a loss of mobility. Symptoms range from mild to severe. There can be a mild background ache in the knee, which might interfere with sporting activities or a long walk. In more severe cases, it can be a constant severe disabling pain, which makes walking very difficult or impossible. Pain may also be so severe that sleep can be disturbed.
Roughening and fragmentation of the knee joint surface may also lead to catching, clicking, clunking or similar symptoms. Swelling of the knee joint is often seen, and in severe cases, the shape of the knee may change. In the worst cases, loss of mobility can lead to poor cardio-respiratory fitness.
Treatment of knee osteoarthritis Following a diagnosis of arthritis, you may receive some form of treatment before you see a surgeon. Non-surgical treatments include simple painkillers, anti-inflammatory tablets, weight loss treatments, modification of activities, or physiotherapy. If there are symptoms of mechanical locking in the knee, or stiffness, then keyhole surgery (arthroscopy) may improve this.
However, this cannot reverse the arthritis damage. For those patients who might be suffering with arthritis but are hoping to avoid surgery, there are less invasive, non-surgical options available, such as injection therapy. This can prove beneficial in managing joint pain to the point whereby the need for surgery is delayed. Steroid injections are an example of this. Another technique available is Platelet Rich Plasma treatment (PRP), which uses a patient’s own anti-inflammatory cells to promote the healing of injured joints.
If the arthritis pain is severe and you have exhausted non-operative treatment, then you may decide to proceed with a knee replacement. Knee replacement surgery has evolved, with innovative, state-of-the-art robotic-arm technology available to assist the surgeon with the procedure. This brings a range of enhanced benefits for the patient, including even greater surgical precision, which in turn leads to a faster recovery and decreased post-operative pain. Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital is currently the only hospital in the city to offer robotic-arm assisted knee replacement surgery, highlighting Nuffield Health’s commitment to providing patients with the best possible treatment. The decision to proceed is made with your surgeon, so that you fully understand the benefits and risks of each procedure.
Some of the treatments offered for arthritis by Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital: • Full and partial knee replacements • Physiotherapy • PRP injections • Steroid injections • Weight loss therapies
Joint Pain Programme Nuffield Health also offers a free-to-access Joint Pain Programme at its two Bristol Fitness and Wellbeing Centres in Clifton and Stoke Gifford. The six-month programme is designed to help you self-manage your chronic joint pain and lead a more independent life by incorporating lifestyle advice, health checks, low-impact exercise sessions and support from a trained Rehabilitation Specialist. You don’t have to be a Nuffield Health gym member to join the programme – it’s free and open to anyone living with joint pain.
The Joint Pain Programme has helped over 11,000 people across the UK since it launched, and those who’ve completed it have shown improvements in mobility, pain, general fitness levels and overall quality of life. To find out more, including how to apply, search “joint pain programme” on the Nuffield Health website.
It doesn’t matter if you want to climb a mountain or simply tidy the garden, any symptom that prevents or limits your ability to do the things you love is cause for concern. With a little help, a bad knee doesn’t have to impact your quality of life.
If you would like to book an appointment with a consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, call the Hospital Enquiries team on 0117 911 5339, or visit the Nuffield Health website: nuffieldhealth.com Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital, 3 Clifton Hill, Bristol BS8 1BN