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What should I do if I experience chronic knee pain?
The treatment and workup of a chronic knee condition is very similar to that of an acute condition in that it involves a history and a physical exam. A simple test like an X-ray can pick up what the problem is because it’s usually arthritic, although not always. And the physical exam can pick up the tendonitis and ligament problems, for instance, that might be chronic. And the X-rays can also tell that physician whether or not perhaps it needs to be taken up to the next step and that’s evaluation by a specialist who takes care of bone and joint problems. The treatment for arthritic conditions is conservative. We’re going to be treating everything that’s not severely disabling with a regiment of conservative treatment.
How are arthritic knee conditions treated?
We start out real basic with anti-inflammatories, Tylenol, icing of the joints, etc., and avoidance of behaviors that tend to exacerbate arthritic problems. We certainly want to encourage a patient to be evaluated by a physician or a health care practitioner if they’re going to be taking these drugs for very long. If that doesn’t work, then we go to the next step depending upon the degree of disability that patient has. So a person with severe knee pain, the next step might be, for instance, a cortisone shot and it can give them two or three months of relief instead of a few hours.
Another oral alterative is glucosamine or glucosamine with chondroitin sulfate. A lot of people with arthritis take that.
Are there injections that could help?
If I’ve tried a cortisone shot and anti-inflammatories and they’re continuing to have significant knee pain; visco-supplementation is a type of injection that is a lubricant basically. And so we can take and inject that into the knee over a serious of three to five injections and a lot of people will get substantial relief of their arthritic pain. It’s not a miracle cure; it just gives them some lubrication and anti-inflammatory effects that make an arthritic joint livable.
What should I do if I think I need to see a doctor about my knee pain?
If they have a family practitioner or internist, or any other kind of physician, they can certainly seek the advice of that person. There are other avenues to seek such as 1-800-82-SHARP, a phone number that they can call to find a family practitioner or an orthopedic surgeon. And Sharp.com certainly has a list of all the physicians that practice within the Sharp system.
Find a San Diego Orthopedic Surgeon
To learn more about orthopedics at Sharp or to find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for San Diego orthopedic surgeons or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm.