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Hip and Knee Arthritis Treatment

photo of Dr. Kipp CryarIn the United States, almost a quarter of the adult population struggle with some form of arthritis. Arthritis is a painful condition that is a result of wearing out of cartilage in a joint and can happen in any joint of the body. Once arthritis has progressed enough, it can cause swelling, stiffness and significant pain. It can be debilitating and, according to Kipp Cryar, MD, it’s important to manage arthritis and its symptoms before it’s too late.

“As arthritis derogates and you have the bone-on-bone damage, there’s really not a whole lot you can do to rebuild that cartilage,” says Dr. Cryar. “There’s no magic procedure to bring that cartilage back.”

Arthritis can happen anywhere, but hips and knees are common culprits. With those bigger joints, a knee or hip replacement can be the best course of treatment when arthritis damage becomes severe enough. But for smaller joints like ankles, fingers and toes, arthritis is less common but can be just as debilitating.

“Unlike hip and knee arthritis, ankle arthritis is usually due to some old injury, whether it’s an old ankle fracture or a sprain, it can still cause damage to cartilage over time,” says Dr. Cryar. There are means to treat ankle arthritis without surgery. Things like anti-inflammatory medicine can be helpful, along with weight loss and bracing to relieve some pain. Injections can also help, but they do not provide long-lasting relief.

Some surgical options are available. Ankle fusion uses plates and screws to fuse the two ankle bones into essentially one bone. It does provide effective pain relief, but it reduces range of motion of the ankle. A newer procedure to treat ankle arthritis is actually an ankle replacement.

“It hasn’t been around as long as hip and knee replacements so the results are not quite as good, although people are doing well. Particularly in the last few years, the implants have gotten a lot better and people are doing a lot better. The issue with this surgery is that these replacement joints eventually wear out, so you may require another surgery later in life. It’s not typically a good idea to do an ankle replacement in a younger person,” says Dr. Cryar.

Another common arthritis in the foot is actually arthritis in the big toe. It results in stiffness and pain in the big toe and can often actually be felt in the foot as a bump or bone spur on top of the toe. Special shoes are available to lessen the pressure on the big toe, and injections are also an option. It can also be treated through surgery by removing the bone spurs. Another option if arthritis is too progressed is a fusion in the joint.

Having flat feet is one of the most common reasons people develop arthritis in their mid-foot or hind-foot. The loss of an arch can put strain on the joints of the foot which then leads to arthritis.

“The first thing I suggest if you do have flat foot and you’re having some discomfort from this is to wear supportive shoes. Supportive shoe wear is good for most foot and ankle issues. If you find something with a good arch support, that can help support the arch and not put so much stress on those joints,” says Cryar. There are also preventative surgeries available.

Arthritis can be debilitating and the goal of treatment is to relieve pain and restore quality of life for patients. “We might be using a brace or doing a surgery that causes stiffness, but as long as we are getting rid of the pain, that’s our ultimate goal.”

If you are suffering from arthritis and would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Cryar, contact his office at (337) 494-4900 for more information.