One of the most frequent complaints that I encounter in my clinic among professional truck drivers is knee pain. Although there are many possible causes of knee pain, osteoarthritis is the most common cause in my patients over the age of 50.
Interestingly, I tend to treat more osteoarthritis of the left knee in drivers. This may be due to the fact that it is the leg that depresses the clutch.
While age is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis, even young people can develop it. Excessive body weight is also a common cause. Although an increase in body weight puts pressure on many joints of the body, it mostly affects the knees.
Scientists have concluded there is also a hereditary component to osteoarthritis. Thus, if any member of your family has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, you are at a greater risk.
So, what is osteoarthritis? Essentially, it is a condition in which the cartilage inside the knee joint deteriorates due to wear and tear. This in turn leads to less shock absorption within the knee joint as well as rubbing of the bones that make up the joint.
All of this results in pain, swelling, and stiffness of the knee joint. A decrease in joint mobility and creaking of the joint are also common symptoms.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis tend to increase during physical activity and subside with rest.
If you suspect you have osteoarthritis of the knee, it is important to consult with your doctor. He or she will be able to diagnose this condition by taking a detailed medical history and performing a physical examination.
If necessary, your doctor will request special testing such as an X-ray and MRI to better visualize the joint.
The primary goal of treatment is to reduce pain and inflammation and restore joint mobility. Treatment plans usually include a combination of exercise, weight loss, and medication.
The most common drugs prescribed for osteoarthritis are pain relievers and anti-inflammatories. If conservative treatments are unsuccessful, corticosteroid injections may be recommended.
This form of treatment involves injecting powerful anti-inflammatory medications directly into the knee joint. When all other forms of treatment fail, surgery may be the only option.
Arthroscopic knee surgery involves a surgeon making small incisions in the joint and inserting a small camera to look inside the knee. Once there, the surgeon will clean the joint out by removing any loose particles and repairing the joint surfaces.
This type of surgery is usually performed on younger patients in order to delay more invasive surgeries. If the degeneration of the knee is too severe for repair, joint replacement surgery is the only other option.
This surgery may involve replacing one or both sides of the joint. Artificial joints are usually made from metals or plastic. Currently, artificial knee joints are expected to last for approximately 20 years, depending on how active the individual is. In general, the results of knee replacement surgery are very good.
Until next month, drive safely.
Dr. Christopher H. Singh runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at the 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 519-421-2024.
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