Latest Treatment Options for Arthritis

For over 100 years, surgeons have been trying to solve the problem of hip and knee arthritis. This gathered pace in the 1960s, when materials such as steel and ivory were used to replace worn out joints, and there are now over 160,000 hip and knee replacements performed in the UK each year. The numbers continue to rise each year, and it is thought that 20% of all GP consultations are now for musculoskeletal problems. Mr David Houlihan-Burne talks us through the latest treatment options.

A patient with knee arthritis is typically over 50 years old, and will have gradually worsening knee pain. There is often also swelling and a change in the alignment of the leg, commonly  with bowing of the legs or development of a 'knock knee'.  Some people have restricted movement and can't fully straighten or bend the knee - a GP will refer for diagnostic scans which will confirm the diagnosis.


Treatment options for hip or knee arthritis

GPs and specialists will exhaust all non-invasive treatment options before considering joint replacement. They will look at medication options (painkillers), the need to modify activities and exercise regimes, and may refer you to a physiotherapist to help make these decisions.

If legs are misaligned they may need a brace to offload weight from the painful part of the joint, and as symptoms get worse, injecting steroids into the joint can give good short term pain relief. There has also been a trend recently to inject blood products into the knee to ‘cure’ arthritis, but there is little evidence to date that this works.

As the arthritis develops and pain increases to the point where it significantly interferes with quality of life, you will need to consider a surgical solution. These include osteotomy (re-alignment surgery) and joint replacement.

Osteotomy surgery is performed in younger, more active patients as a temporary solution, as it usually pushes back the need for a joint replacement for 10-15 years. This is a great option for the right patient with the right pattern of arthritis, and an orthopaedic surgeon will quickly determine if it's right for you.

Joint replacement is the 'gold standard' treatment for older sufferers (those who have had arthritis for 10-15 years). There are many reasons for the increase in the numbers, but the main one is the increased effectiveness of the operation, both in terms of relieving pain but also helping people get back to doing all the activities they previously enjoyed.

The procedure has advanced dramatically over recent years. Joint replacements are made of materials that should last for many decades if looked after, and they provide excellent function for the patient. The surgery is still not perfect however, with about 10% of patients saying they aren't satisfied with their new joint, so research continues to enable ongoing improvements.

Fortius joint replacement at Bupa Cromwell Hospital
Bupa Cromwell Hospital has teamed up with leading orthopaedic consultants at Fortius Group to create a brand new joint replacement centre in the heart of West London. Together we are using the very latest management techniques to provide a seamless, team based approach to this operation, with the aim to get patients back to enjoying their daily activities as soon as possible afterwards.

The joint replacements used have been awarded the highest possible ODEP rating (the rating is an independent score given to all joint prostheses based on the scientific evidence behind their longevity). These high quality prostheses, along with modern surgical techniques, allow the quickest recovery, the best function, and the longest life span for the new joint.

We have adapted modern anaesthetic and pain relief techniques to enable great results whilst reducing any side effects. Patients come around from surgery pain free and can start their rehab immediately - walking on the day of their operation.

These techniques significantly reduce complications from surgery, and improve the speed and quality of recovery. We believe our patient outcomes and satisfaction rates rival the best units in the world, and ongoing data collection confirms this.

Fortius Joint Replacement at Bupa will continuously analyse, examine and critique all advances in the treatment of arthritis, with the aim to achieve 100% satisfaction amongst our patients.

To find out more or book an appointment with Fortius Joint Replacement at Bupa please call 0203 195 2442, or visit our patient education website.