Arthritis is a condition thought of as ‘wear and tear’. It can affect any joint in the body.
The problem occurs due to degeneration of the articular cartilage that lines the joint surface. In healthy joints, this surface provides a smooth gliding pain free range of motion. In arthritis, the cartilage becomes damaged. Fragments can break off causing inflammation in the joint. Pain can develop.
If untreated, hip or knee arthritis can become progressively painful and stiff. You may be unable to straighten your leg fully or bend it. This results in an abnormal gait. The muscles will gradually become weaker and you lose confidence in your hip or knee joint.
Joint replacement can be very helpful if conservative treatments do not work.
It is important to consider that hip and knee replacement surgery is not without risk.
Simple analgesia, using a walking stick and maintaining and ideal body weight can help. Injections may also help in certain situations.
A total hip replacement is an effective treatment for osteoarthritis.
A conventional hip replacement can be planned before surgery.
For knees, simple treatments can be very effective and include activity modification and the use of simple pain killers as required. A walking stick might help. Sometimes people may consider injections for symptomatic relief. You may wish to also try anti-inflammatory creams and gels that can be rubbed into the joint.
With knee arthritis, a bandage may help with confidence. Off-loading braces may also help with symptoms if your arthritis is mainly on one half of the knee.
A knee replacement is an effective treatment for arthritis.
Further information on osteoarthritis can be found on the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) website.