One of the worst things about arthritis is the way it restricts your ability to move. It’s tough to live a normal life when you can’t get out of bed due to the pain. That’s why having arthritis in the knee is so difficult. It can make it difficult to even walk without every step leaving you in agonizing pain.
It’s a feeling that people with fibromyalgia already know well. That’s why it seems so unfair that arthritis is so common among people with fibromyalgia. In addition to the pain of fibromyalgia, they have to deal with arthritis pain too. So, let’s talk about what causes fibromyalgia
What Causes Arthritis?
Arthritis is a complicated condition. And there are hundreds of different kinds of arthritis. So nailing down the cause of your arthritis can be surprisingly difficult. But in spite of the wide range of possibilities, we can really boil down arthritis to two basic categories: inflammatory arthritis and non-inflammatory arthritis.
Essentially, arthritis is caused by the gradual degradation of the lining of the joints ( the synovium.) And the primary distinction between these two forms of arthritis is the different mechanisms that cause the lining of the joints to break down.
The most widely-known type of inflammatory arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis- or RA. In cases of rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system begins to attack the synovium between joints, causing them to become inflamed and eventually break down. Thus, RA is classified as an autoimmune condition, which is any condition where the immune system begins to attack the body’s own tissue.
On the other hand, the most common form of non-inflammatory arthritis is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by the gradual wear and tear of daily life, thus your risk for it increases as you get older. Basically, the stress on the synovium from performing daily tasks gradually wears away the synovium. As a result, the bones begin to move against each other rather than the synovium, leading to pain and inflammation.
The treatment for arthritis depends on the specific type of arthritis you have. But generally, the key to any arthritis treatment is to reduce inflammation and pain and protect the joints from further damage.
How to Treat Arthritis in the Knee
When you’re trying to control arthritis, the first step is to address the inflammation which causes pain and can lead to joint damage. And there are a few different medications that doctors usually prescribe to do this.
The first is a class of drugs called NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. NSAIDs include basic, over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen. But in addition to dulling the sensation of pain, these drugs also prevent the body from releasing a specific type of enzyme that contributes to inflammation.
In addition, there are other types of drugs to fight inflammation like corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are a type of hormone that your body naturally releases in response to inflammation to help the healing process. But you can take supplementary synthetic corticosteroids to help bolster this natural response. Your doctor can prescribe corticosteroids in both pill and topical cream forms and they are quite effective at reducing inflammation and thus pain.
And one of the most common drugs specifically prescribed to treat RA is immunosuppressants. Immunosuppressant drugs work by reducing the activity of the immune system, limiting the number of antibodies your cells produce. This means that there will be fewer antibodies attacking the tissue between your joints and thus you’ll have less damage and inflammation.
For cases of non-inflammatory arthritis, your options are a bit more limited. Though both NSAIDs and corticosteroids can help reduce the inflammation of the joints and thus reduce the amount of pain you feel. Otherwise, basic precautionary practices like getting plenty of rest and avoiding stress on your joints can really help.
And in cases of severe osteoarthritis, your doctor might prescribe heavier opioid-based painkillers. These tend to be more effective at reducing pain than basic over-the-counter drugs. But they also carry a larger risk of serious side effects. And due to the legal issues surrounding these drugs, you may have a harder time finding a doctor willing to prescribe them.
In cases where the joints are severely damaged, you may have to turn to surgical procedures. The most common surgical treatment for cases of arthritis in the knee is a joint replacement. Essentially, a joint replacement procedure involves inserting an artificial plastic joint in the place of the damaged synovium. This allows the bones to move smoothly against the artificial joint and can help resolve the symptoms of arthritis.
So tell us, do you suffer from arthritis in the knee? How do you treat it? Let us know in the comments.