Many patients assume that surgery is inevitable when faced with a joint injury or orthopedic conditions. Yet, nonsurgical treatments are increasingly becoming the initial go-to answer for a number of joint concerns. Here’s a closer look at four of the most popular nonsurgical treatments for joint conditions.
Physical therapy helps in cases of arthritic or injured joints in two different ways. First, the muscles surrounding the joint are strengthened, which gives more support to the joint and prevents incorrect movement while providing more stability. Secondly, a physical therapist can show patients a better way to move that doesn’t put strain on a weakened joint, which further minimizes discomfort and allows the joint to heal by preventing re-injury.
Whether an over-the-counter oral medication or a prescription, anti-inflammatories act immediately as a painkiller, and reduce inflammation in the affected joint with repeated use. Although these are not a long-term solution for a chronic joint problem, they are very effective for relieving the symptoms associated with an injury or arthritis.
Hyaluronic acid is a lubricating fluid that functions like a shock absorber during joint movement, yet its natural production declines in response to arthritis. In use since 1999, viscosupplementation is an injection of hyaluronic acid directly to the arthritic joint, supplementing the natural synovial fluid with a synthetic substitute that eases stiffness and pain.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells are responsible for helping the body to regrow damaged tissue, like cartilage in an arthritic joint. As with synovial fluid, the production and function of stem cells declines in response to arthritis and also with age. Stem cell therapy uses donor cells from the patient’s body and injects them into the joint to actually regrow cartilage and limit the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.