There are two basic truths about arthritis: it can’t be cured, and it gets worse with time. While some [link: http://www.drvenuto.com/arthritis-treatment.html] arthritis treatments in California [/link] focus on only eliminating symptoms of arthritis, working toward ensuring joint preservation and protection instead can help decrease pain as well as slow down the disease’s progression.
Where bones meet together at the joints, the ends of those bones are covered in a shiny, slippery substance called cartilage. Normal wear and tear over the years causes a gradual erosion of this natural cushion. When this reduction happens prematurely, it’s called degenerative arthritis. As cartilage wears down, joint movement becomes more painful. For many, continued degeneration may only be resolved with a complete joint replacement.
Effective Nonsurgical Treatment
A multi-step approach for arthritis treatment that is geared toward preserving pain-free joint function is the preferred treatment philosophy of Dr. Ralph Venuto, a prominent [link: http://www.drvenuto.com/minimally-invasive-techniques.html] Orange County orthopedic surgeon [/link].
The first step in effective nonsurgical treatment for arthritic joints begins with a thorough evaluation. This includes taking a comprehensive patient history, plus a basic physical exam and X-rays and/or an MRI if needed.
After diagnosis, several treatments are available for alleviating arthritic pain and progression, and may be used alone or in combination, depending on each patient’s specific needs:
�Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy helps to accelerate healing by delivering enriched blood platelets containing growth factors directly to the affected joints needing these critical nutrients the most. Concentrated platelets are extracted from the patient’s own blood and then re-injected into the target site of damage or injury to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes. Stem cells eventually replace the blood platelets. PRP that includes stem cell treatments can produce even more impressive results.
�Viscosupplementation is the injection of a prepared Hyaluronic acid into the joint; a synthetic lubricating fluid that’s identical to the natural joint fluid normally produced in healthy joints. This gel-like fluid is responsible for lubricating and nourishing your cartilage while reducing friction. Several injections over a span of 4 weeks help return a more normal environment to the joint, reducing pain as well as slowing down the progression of arthritis degeneration.
�Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, making adjustments in exercise routines and modifying activity types and levels can all help reduce strain on the joints. This gives your body the rest and healing time it needs, and helps alleviate arthritic pain. Strength training can build up better muscle support for joint movement, as well as improving core support. Asymmetrical knee pain can be relieved by wearing a customized unloader brace, which is designed to shift weight away from the affected part of the joint-on one side or the other- and reduce strain.
�Supplements can help the body heal as well. Chondroitin sulfate helps improve joint function while reducing inflammation and pain; chondroitin is a component found naturally in bone and cartilage. Glucosamine helps the body rebuild synovial (joint) fluid and cartilage, and calcium is a necessary part of strong, healthy bones, with Vitamin D to promote absorption.
While injecting steroids (cortisone) to the affected joint can relieve symptoms by reducing inflammation, cortisone is not itself any kind of healing agent. The underlying condition will not be resolved through cortisone injections, and repeated use can actually accelerate joint surface degradation. This is detrimental to the joint in the long run, and is not a long-term solution.
Feeling Your Best
The most effective arthritis treatments are individualized to each patient’s specific needs, and should focus on protecting the joint from arthritic degeneration in the first place, rather than pursuing invasive surgery after there are no longer any options. With proper treatment and early intervention, symptoms and progression of arthritis can be greatly reduced, while preserving the joint structure and function.