What is arthritis ?
In broad terms, arthritis is the loss of cartilage lining a joint. Cartilage lines a joint in order for the joint – a connection between 2 or more bones – to move smoothly.
In layperson’s terms, arthritis usually means “osteoarthritis” associated with old age but there are many causes of arthritis.
The manifestations of arthritis are pain, stiffness, swelling and deformity of the joint involved. Often this is a gradual process and our body copes with it until for one reason or another, the condition overwhelms our body’s repair capability and symptoms occur.
Arthritis can affect any joint. The 2 more common joints involved are in the hips and knees.
What can I do?
Living with arthritis can be painful and debilitating.
Unfortunately, lost cartilage cannot be replenished. In certain circumstances, cartilage can be grown in a lab from your own cells and surgically implanted. Not everyone is suitable for this technology.
Tablets like glucosamine and chondroitinsulfate do not replenish cartilage.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, muscle tone, weight reduction, avoiding sports that puts more pressure in that joint and simple pain relieving medication can help with the symptoms of arthritis.
What surgeries are available?
The focus of surgery is to help relieve pain, maintain function and slow down the process of arthritis.
Surgeons can do this by keyhole surgery (arthroscopy), realigning the bones such that there is less pressure on the worn areas (osteotomy), and replacing parts of the joint that is worn out (hemi-arthroplasty).
These surgeries are only indicated for the early stages in the disease process. The key is to prevent or slow down the progression of arthritis to the advanced stages and maintain a good quality of life.
Total joint replacement (arthroplasty) is recommended for advancedarthritis for pain.