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Rotator Cuff Tear INR   0 INR  0
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Rotator Cuff Tear

The rotator cuff muscles are a group of four muscles that pass from the shoulder blade (scapula) and attach to the top of the ball joint (humerus). These muscles are responsible for rotation and elevation of the arm.FROZEN SHOULDER Rotator cuff tears are very common, especially as we all get older. They frequently cause pain over the upper arm that is made worse by overhead activities, reaching behind your back and lifting. They often ache at night and people find that they are unable to lie on the injured shoulder. They also cause weakness. Rotator cuff tears most frequently occur with general wear and tear, and most people usually don’t remember injuring their shoulder. These “degenerative tears”, if not associated with arm weakness, may be successfully treated without surgery. This involves avoiding overhead activities, regular simple pain relief and gentle physiotherapy. Anti-inflammatory steroid injections can be very helpful in these situations to help manage pain and discomfort. When symptoms fail to improve despite these measures, surgical repair of the tear is indicated. The less common group of rotator cuff tears occur following an injury, and are called “traumatic tears”. People usually remember the exact incident, and often have significant weakness after the injury. Early surgical repair is often indicated. SUMMARY OF TREATMENT OPTIONS Simple pain relief e.g. regular paracetamol, ibuprofen. Physiotherapy: to maintain range of movement and strength. Anti-inflammatory steroid injections: to assist with pain relief. Note that excessive use of cortisone may cause more harm than good. Surgical repair is indicated in 2 circumstances: Following an injury (Acute tear). Degenerative tears that continue to be painful despite regular analgesia, physiotherapy and steroid injections. Injection PRP for partial tears.ROTATOR CUFF REPAIR As a rule of thumb, rotator cuff tears will not heal on their own, and can only do so if a surgical repair is performed. A repair involves re-attaching the torn tendon to bone (humerus) using sutures and anchors. This operation is usually done under general anaesthesia, and may be performed as an open technique or arthroscopically (keyhole surgery). Arthroscopic repair is more technically demanding than open surgery, but this method has advantages including less pain, smaller wounds and lower risk of post-operative infection. Not all tears can be repaired. Risks of surgery include infection, stiffness, ongoing pain and weakness, re-tear of the tendon repair, and very rarely, nerve injury. The risk of the repair tearing again is much greater with large tears and with increasing age (over 70 years of age). Even if the repair does tear again, most people experience an improvement in their pain. The risk of ongoing pain at 12 months following the surgery is approximately 10 to 15%. Antibiotics are given at the time of surgery to minimize the risk of infection. Despite this, infection of the wounds can occur. This is usually easily treated with antibiotics. However, sometimes the infection gets into the joint which is a serious complication and requires re-admission to hospital, additional surgery and intravenous antibiotics. Most patients experience improved shoulder strength and less pain following rotator cuff repair, and each technique has similar medium to long-term results. Factors that decrease the likelihood of a satisfactory result include: Large / massive tears. Patient age (older than 65 years). Poor compliance with restrictions and rehabilitation following surgery. Smoking. Poor tissue quality. Workers compensation claims. Recovery following surgery usually involves staying one night in hospital, and being in a sling for 6 weeks. Most people can drive a car after 6 to 8 weeks. Rehabilitation guidelines to share with your physiotherapist are provided following the surgery, and vary according to the type and size of tear that is repaired. Recovery may take 6 to 12 months, depending on the severity of the tear.

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Shoulder Dislocation and Instability INR   0 INR  0
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Shoulder Dislocation and Instability

The shoulder is a shallow ball and socket joint. This allows fantastic range of movement, but also makes it an inherently unstable joint. The socket is made deeper by a rim of fibrocartilage (labrum). Additional stability is provided by thickenings of the joint capsule (ligaments) and the rotator cuff muscles. Shoulder stability relies upon these ligaments remaining intact and the muscles being strong.A shoulder dislocation occurs when the ball (humerus) comes out of the socket (glenoid). This may be partial (subluxation) or full (dislocation). After the first episode, it is likely that the labrum and ligaments will be torn, putting the shoulder at high risk of recurrent episodes of instability. This is especially true for patients under the age of 30 years.Recurrent shoulder instability following a traumatic shoulder dislocation can be effectively treated by repairing the torn labrum and ligaments. This is most commonly done using keyhole (arthroscopic) surgery and, when using modern techniques, is associated with a high rate of success. The labrum is reattached to the edge of the socket and the ligaments are tightened. This is done using suture anchors inserted into the edge of the socket (glenoid).Recovery following surgery usually involves staying one night in hospital, and being in a sling for 6 weeks. Most people can drive a car after 6 to 8 weeks. Rehabilitation guidelines to share with your physiotherapist are provided following the surgery. Return sport is usually possible at 6 months. Risks of surgery include infection, stiffness, ongoing pain and instability, re-tear of the labral repair, and very rarely, nerve injury. Antibiotics are given at the time of surgery to minimize the risk of infection. Despite this, infection of the wounds can occur. This is usually easily treated with antibiotics. However, sometimes the infection gets into the joint, which is a serious complication and requires re-admission to hospital, additional surgery and intravenous antibiotics. Atraumatic shoulder instability occurs less commonly. This is where the shoulder dislocates with minimal effort and these patients are often described as “loose jointed”. Unlike traumatic shoulder instability, there usually isn’t a labral tear and most patients are treated with physiotherapy.

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Knee Arthroscopy. INR   0 INR  0
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Knee Arthroscopy.

The knee joint is a frequent source of problems requiring the attention of an orthopaedic surgeon. The joint is primarily formed by the two large bones of the lower limb, the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone). The patella (kneecap) articulates with the femur at the front of the knee. The fibula joins with the tibia on the lateral (outside) side of the knee. Together, the femur, tibia and patella make three compartments (medial, lateral and patellofemoral). Each of the bones has a bearing surface of articular or hyaline cartilage. In addition there is a meniscus in each of the medial and lateral compartments. The menisci are like cushions or spacers and are made of fibrocartilage. They often simply referred to as the cartilages. The direction of movement of the bones is controlled by the ligaments and the muscles make the joint move. The major ligaments are the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments and the medial and lateral collateral ligaments. In addition, the collateral ligaments have important associated ligaments towards the back of the knee. The major muscle groups are the quadriceps at the front of the thigh and the hamstring muscles at the back. Muscles attach to bones via tendons. The main tendons around the knee are the quadriceps and patellar tendons which attach to the top and bottom of the patella respectively. The iliotibial band is like a tendon on the lateral side of the knee. There is a wide range of pathology and problems in the knee. The menisci can be torn as a result of an injury, although most meniscal tears are the result of a degenerative process and a specific injury may not be recalled. Not all meniscal tears require treatment, but if they do, this is usually done by arthroscopy. The tear can either be resected (cut out) or repaired. The articular cartilage can wear away. This is called osteoarthritis. Treatment depends on the severity of the disease and can range from quadriceps strengthening exercises to a realignment procedure called an osteotomy or to joint replacement. Isolated injuries may also occur causing local defects for which there may be specific treatment to try to restore the surface. Osteochondritis dissecans is a condition that involves an area of articular cartilage and the underlying bone and usually occurs in teenagers. The appropriate treatment depends on many factors. The bone underlying the articular cartilage may occasionally be affected by a condition called avascular necrosis in which the blood supply to an area of bone becomes disrupted. It may recover spontaneously or deteriorate to the point that intervention such as joint replacement may need to be considered. The cause of avascular necrosis is poorly understood. Ligaments can be torn. Medial collateral ligament injuries usually heal without surgery but may require bracing. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are often treated by reconstruction, but there are also situations in which they do not need surgical intervention. Posterior cruciate ligament injuries are not usually treated with reconstruction unless they are combined with other injuries or have been causing instability. Lateral ligament injuries are often associated with other injuries and may require surgery. The patellofemoral joint is a frequent source of problems. There can be the same articular cartilage problems as in other parts of the knee. In addition there can be problems with instability of the patella as well as maltracking of the patella in its groove in the femur. Physiotherapy is often the first line treatment for many of these problems, but surgery may be required for recurrent dislocation of the patella. There are a variety of stabilization procedures that can be used depending on the specific problems of an individual.Tendons can be torn and usually require repair. However the more common problem is tendinopathy that results in local pain and which is usually treated without surgery, although surgical intervention may occasionally be required for symptoms that fail to resolve. The iliotibial band can impinge on the lateral aspect of the femur causing pain with running. It can usually be managed without surgery but surgical release is sometimes performed in chronic situations.

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Hip Arthritis INR   0 INR  0
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Hip Arthritis

Arthritis of the hip joint is a common condition. It usually affects middle age and older people resulting in over 40,000 hip replacements being performed in Australia per year to relieve sufferers of their pain. It comes about when the cartilage which overlies the femur (leg) bone or lines the acetabulum (pelvic) bone wears out and exposes “bone on bone” articulation resulting in pain, stiffness and disability. Many forms of arthritis have been described. Osteoarthritis is the most common form characterized by the break-down of the joint’s cartilage. The exact cause of osteoarthritis is unknown but it may occur in families (genetic predisposition), post injury or as a result of infection in the joint.The next most common form of arthritis is known as rheumatoid arthritis. This is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joint and soft tissues often resulting in the rapid onset of pain, swelling and stiffness with marked joint destruction. Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women, and is caused by the body’s own immune system attacking the joints, often affecting the small joints of the body first i.e. those of the hands and fingers before involving the larger lower limb joints. Other forms of arthritis are less common and broadly categorized into the term “inflammatory arthritis” including such conditions as ankylosing spondylitis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), gout and juvenile arthritis. Arthritis of the hip joint often has an insidious onset characterized by groin, lateral thigh or less commonly buttock pain which may radiate down the leg to the knee and beyond. The pain is worse with activity, limits walking distance and often will cause disturbance of sleep. Early morning stiffness is a common symptom and increases as the disease progresses, often resulting in the inability to reach down to put on ones socks and shoes. The diagnosis of arthritis is usually made on the basis of the symptom pattern, stiffness and irritability of the joint along with X-ray changes.The early management of arthritis involves non-surgical modalities. These include a modification of activities to avoid the aggravating factors e.g. cessation of running / jumping pursuits and substituting those with more suitable activities e.g. walking, cycling or swimming. Weight optimization and the cessation of smoking will increase the lifespan of the remaining cartilage as can dietary supplementation with glucosamines and fish oils. Simple analgesia in the form of paracetamol combined with anti-inflammatory medication is first line pain control. Physiotherapy and hydrotherapy are used to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint and walking aids in the form of a stick or frame can make ambulation safer and less painful. A walking stick should be held in the opposite hand to the hip that is affected. When these first line measures for managing the pain from your arthritic hip fail to provide effective relief then it may be time to consider hip replacement surgery.

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Arthroscopic ACL Reconstruction. INR   0 INR  0
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Arthroscopic ACL Reconstruction.

The term knee reconstruction is commonly used to refer to reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).This ligament is in the middle of the knee and controls the movement of the two main bones of the knee, the tibia and femur (Fig.1). It is particularly important for twisting and turning movements that occur in football, netball, basketball and snow skiing. Rupture (tearing) of the ACL can therefore lead to instability. This is felt as giving way with certain activities, usually those that involve a sudden change in direction. When giving way occurs, there is a risk of damage to the cartilages (menisci) and this in turn puts the knee at risk of developing premature osteoarthritis. Although it is an aim of reconstructive surgery, it is unclear whether anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction actually reduces the risk of developing osteoarthritis. The main reason for reconstructing the ACL is to stop or to prevent instability. In many situations this instability can be predicted soon after the injury occurs and a decision made to operate without waiting for the instability to develop. However, in other cases it may be less clear and people may choose to rehabilitate their knee and try to return to their normal activities without surgery. Whether they can get back to their normal activities without surgery depends on many factors – how much healing of the torn ACL takes place, other injuries to the knee, the intrinsic stability of the knee, rehabilitation, and the individual’s ability to modify their activities. It is important to remember that ACL reconstruction is almost always an elective procedure. From a medical point of view, there is no rush to make a decision, provided the knee is not giving way.If ACL reconstruction is to be performed, it is essential to prepare the knee for surgery. The key is to get back full extension (straightening) of the knee. Although it may feel that there is something in the front of the knee that is blocking full extension, this is rarely the case, particularly after the initial injury. A key component is to reduce swelling by regular icing and wearing a compression bandage or sleeve. Having the heel supported on a rolled towel and using the quadriceps muscle at the front of the thigh to lock the knee out straight is the key exercise (Fig.2). Flexion (bending) is also important and riding an exercise bike will help this, together with strengthening the quadriceps muscle. SURGERY The technique for reconstruction involves taking a piece of tendon (usually from the same knee, but sometimes from the other knee) and using this to replace the torn ligament (Fig.3). The tendon graft is usually taken from the hamstrings on the inside of the thigh or from the patellar tendon at the front of the knee. It can also be taken from the quadriceps tendon, just above the patella (kneecap). Occasionally allografts are used. These are tendon grafts taken from cadavers (people who have died). In recent years there has been increased interest and media coverage of synthetic grafts, specifically the LARS device. The role of the LARS remains unclear, but there are concerns because of problems seen when synthetic ligaments were used in the late eighties.From your point of view, there is a vertical or oblique scar on the front of the knee together with two small scars from stab incisions that allow the arthroscope and surgical instruments to be introduced into the knee. If additional surgery is required to repair a cartilage, a further incision may be made towards the back of the knee on either the outside or inside. A small area of the skin on the outside (lateral side) of the knee is usually numb after surgery. Sometimes there is numbness on the shin. Although the numbness can be permanent, the area of numbness usually gets smaller with time and does not usually cause any problems. Surgery is usually performed under a spinal anaesthetic. At the end of the operation the area affected by the surgery is infiltrated with local anaesthetic. Sometimes an epidural block or a femoral nerve block is also used. If this is the case you will notice numbness and tingling in your legs when you wake up. This gradually wears off over 8 hours or so. After leaving the recovery area pain control can usually be achieved with tablets alone. Anti-inflammatory medication is often used to help with pain control, so it is important that you tell your anaesthetist if you have ever had a history of stomach ulcers or bleeding, as this medication may not be appropriate in that situation. You will be awake within 20 minutes of the operation and should be able to eat and drink after approximately 2 to 3 hours. On return to the ward after the operation, an inflatable cuff (Cryo-Cuff) is placed around the knee. This is filled with iced water to help control swelling. Patients find this very comfortable. Depending on your surgeon’s preference, you may have 1 or 2 drains placed in the knee joint so that unwanted blood does not accumulate and inhibit recovery. These drain tubes are usually removed the day after surgery. A physiotherapist will teach you exercises to get the knee out straight (extension) and regain function in the quadriceps muscle at the front of the thigh as well as make sure that you are confident walking with the aid of crutches. A brace or splint is usually required. You will usually go home on the morning after surgery. Following surgery you will be provided with information regarding rehabilitation. This outlines the rate of progression. Rehabilitation can be undertaken either independently or under the supervision of a physiotherapist.It is very important to rest during the first week after surgery in particular. This means spending most of the time on a bed or couch with the leg elevated and regular icing of the knee. The main aim during this phase is to restore full extension of the knee. The time off work that is required will vary according to your job. If it is mainly deskwork, then patients may be able to work within 2 weeks. If heavy manual work is involved, it may be 2 to 3 months before one can consider return to work. In general, crutches are required for up to 2 weeks. In terms of returning to sport most patients are able to recommence some of their activities by 4 months. By 6 months the majority of patients are able to gradually resume training for their original sports with a view to returning to play from 9 or 10 months. However, improvement continues for another 6 to 12 months after that. COMPLICATIONS While most patients are happy with the outcome of their surgery, there are nonetheless some risks, which need to be borne in mind. ANAESTHETICS Always involve some kind of risk, but these are statistically minimal. INFECTION Antibiotics are given at the time of surgery to reduce the risk of infection. Despite this infection of the wound can occur. This is usually easily treated with antibiotics. However, sometimes the infection gets into the joint. This is a serious complication and requires admission to hospital, additional surgery and intravenous antibiotics. VENOUS THROMBOSIS A thrombosis is a blood clot that may form in the veins in the legs. This can cause persistent swelling of the foot and ankle and can also be dislodged and be carried to the lungs (pulmonary embolus), resulting in chest pain and breathing difficulties. However, the risk of thrombosis is statistically very low.DONOR SITE If you have a hamstring graft it is very common to experience the sensation of tearing something at the back of the knee around 3 to 8 weeks after surgery. This is just stretching of the scar tissue being laid down in the tendon harvest site. Although it may be associated with some pain and bruising, this usually settles over a few days and do not affect the long-term outcome. If you have a patellar tendon graft there can be pain at the lower end of the patella. This can occur as late as 9 to 10 months after surgery but usually settles with time. HARDWARE Occasionally one of the devices used to hold the graft in place while it heals to bone may become prominent some months after surgery. If problematic, the hardware can be removed without risk to the graft. OTHER Persisting problems can occur as a result of poor compliance with rehabilitation, failure of the graft, or significant additional damage to the knee from the original injury such as torn ligaments or cartilages or osteoarthritis.

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Total Hip Replacement INR   0 INR  0
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Total Hip Replacement

The operation of a total hip replacement is a well established, long lasting procedure for relieving the pain involved with hip arthritis. This type of surgery has been used effectively now for over 40 years and remains the treatment of choice to achieve an excellent quality of life for sufferers of hip arthritis.THE PROCEDURE ANAESTHETIC The type of anaesthetic that is used for the procedure will vary according to each patient’s co-existent medical conditions and also your wishes. Our group of anaesthetists are all competent in both general and regional (spinal) anaesthetics and will discuss with you prior to the procedure the benefits and risks of each technique. SURGERY Through an incision approximately 12-15cm long centred over the side of the hip and curving gently towards the buttock, the hip joint can be entered with minimal trauma to the surrounding muscles. The hip is dislocated and the femur bone is cut through its neck to expose both the pelvic and leg sides of the joint. Depending upon the quality of the bone and the age of the patient either a cemented or cementless component is fixed to the pelvis and similarly to the femur. The ball and socket mechanism of the joint is then reconstructed with either a metal on plastic (polyethylene) articulation or ceramic on ceramic articulation. Computer navigation may be used to ensure that the leg length obtained is correct and the orientation of the components is optimal to provide for maximum range of motion of the new hip. Following the surgery you will be able to mobilize fully weight bearing on the hip the day after the procedure. You will be aided by the physiotherapist and nursing staff and taught how to safely use a frame initially and then graduate onto crutches. Your hospital stay will be between 5-7 days and depending upon your home supports and progress. Most people will be able to dispense with their crutches approximately 4-6 weeks following the surgery. During this time period you should sleep flat on your back, not cross your legs and use a seat raise for the toilet. These precautions will be emphasised by the physiotherapist during your hospital stay.All our patients are routinely put on home based physiotherapy post discharge. AFTER DISCHARGE Driving the car is not allowed for 6 weeks following the surgery and car travel as a passenger should be minimised during this period. These restrictions minimise the chance of the hip dislocating whilst the muscles and soft tissues around your hip heal. At 6 weeks following the procedure you will be reviewed by your surgeon. Most patients are then given the all clear to return to recreational walking, swimming, cycling, golf, tennis, bowls, gymnasium workouts and other recreational pursuits as desired. It is not advised that you undertake running or jumping activities following a hip replacement. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS What are the risks involved with the procedure? There are general risks associated with any surgery, these are those of the anaesthetic (please speak to your anaesthetist prior to the operation), bleeding, blood clots (deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolization (PE)), infection and vascular injury. Specific to the surgery are the risks of dislocation of the hip prosthesis, leg length inequality, fracture of the pelvis or femur, wear and loosening of the implants, audible ‘squeaking’ of the articulating components (ceramics), nerve injury. When can I return to work? Most people should be able to return to work at 6 weeks post-surgery. This may be extended if you perform a job involving heavy manual labour. When can I resume sexual activity? Sexual intercourse can safely be undertaken 6 weeks following the surgery. How long do I need to keep taking pain-killing medicine for? When you leave the hospital you will be given tablet analgesia for pain. You should take this for as long as you have pain when walking or at night. Most people are able to cease analgesics by 4 weeks following the surgery. Do I need to do physiotherapy when I go home? You will be given a sheet of exercises from the physiotherapist when you leave the hospital. You should do these exercises as instructed. You do not need to visit a physiotherapist once discharged.

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Osteoarthritis of the Knee INR   0 INR  0
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Osteoarthritis of the Knee

KNEE Osteoarthritis of the knee is a common condition and is becoming an increasingly important problem for the community as a whole. In the normal knee joint the ends of the bones are covered with a type of gristle called articular cartilage. This surface has special characteristics that make it an ideal bearing surface. The articular cartilage needs to be distinguished from the meniscus, commonly called “the cartilage” The meniscus is like a gasket around the margins of the joint and fills in the gap between the rounded end of the femur and the relatively flat surface of the tibia. Osteoarthritis is a condition where the articular cartilage breaks down and is essentially worn away leaving the underlying bone exposed. On an X-ray this appears as a loss of the space between bones. There are many factors that can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis. Some individuals probably have a hereditary predisposition to the condition, as it does seem to run in some families. Females are more at risk of developing osteoarthritis than males. Obesity is a very important contributory factor as the biomechanics of the knee are such that the effect of extra weight is magnified in the knee joint. The effect is like a stiletto heel, where all the force goes through a very small area. Injuries to the knee can also contribute to the development of osteoarthritis. Such injuries include damage to the meniscus or articular surface itself and a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament. The treatment of osteoarthritis depends on the severity of the condition, the symptoms, the lifestyle of the individual, as well as their age and general health. In general, treatment can be divided into non-surgical and surgical options. As a basic principle it is always better to try all non-surgical options before proceeding down a surgical path. NON-SURGICAL TREATMENT SIMPLE MEASURES Strengthen thigh muscles. Lose weight. Analgesics. Non-surgical treatment starts with ensuring that there is adequate strength in the muscles around the knee and in particular the quadriceps muscle at the front of the thigh, and getting one's weight back to a normal level. Obviously it is difficult for many patients with osteoarthritis of the knee to exercise because of their pain. However, riding an exercise bike is a good way of strengthening the quadriceps muscle and at the same time burning calories, which will help in efforts to lose weight. However, dietary intake also needs to be modified and it may be helpful to seek specific advice from a dietician. As one loses weight and builds up strength in the quadriceps muscle it generally becomes easier to walk and this in turn will help with losing weight. Using simple painkillers can be a very effective way of relieving symptoms and improving function. Paracetamol should be the mainstay of pain relief. Various formulations are available but the basic principle is that the total dose should not exceed 4 grams per day (8 standard 500mg tablets). It is often helpful to take a larger dose (1000 - 1500 mg) in the morning and again at night. This will help get over morning stiffness and pain and relieve night pain, two of the most troublesome symptoms of osteoarthritis. OTHER OPTIONS Anti-inflammatories. Nutraceuticals (glucosamine, chondroitin sulphate, fish oil, Lyprinol). Cortisone injection. Viscosupplementation. Anti-inflammatory medications can also provide good relief of symptoms, both pain and swelling. However, they can all be associated with significant side-effects including indigestion and stomach ulcers, aggravation of high blood pressure and heart disease, and impairment of kidney function. They should therefore not be used indiscriminately and preferably only for short-term benefit. If your knee causes you most difficulty with activities such as golf or tennis, one strategy is to take anti-inflammatory medication on the day you are playing sport and perhaps the following day but then not again until you play sport the next time. There are a number of so-called nutraceutical preparations that have become very popular. These include glucosamine, chondroitin sulphate, fish oil and green-lipped mussel extract (Lyprinol). Some individuals find that they get good relief from these types of preparations but it is difficult to predict who will respond positively to them. At present there is little in the way of good quality scientific evidence to support their use. Fortunately they do not seem to have any significant side effects, so there is little harm in trying them. It would seem logical to try only one at a time. If it is unclear whether the preparation is helping, then it is probably worth taking it for 3 to 4 months and then ceasing it. If your symptoms do not deteriorate once you stop taking the preparation then there is little reason to recommence it. There is no convincing evidence to suggest that one formulation of glucosamine is better than another, or whether the addition of chondroitin sulphate provides an additional benefit. There are two groups of injections that can also be used in the treatment of the osteoarthritis. The first are cortisone preparations and these can be used for the relief of an exacerbation of symptoms, particularly if there is significant swelling. It is probably not a good idea to have a lot of injections of cortisone into the knee, as each injection is associated with a very small risk of infection of the joint. The second group of injections are the so-called viscosupplements. These are basically preparations of hyaluronic acid, which is one of the substances that make up the articular cartilage. There is some evidence to indicate that the use of viscosupplementation provides relief that is similar to that achieved with the use of anti-inflammatory medication or cortisone injections for up to 3 to 6 months. It is very important to realise that the use of anti-inflammatory tablets, cortisone injections, or viscosupplementation does not affect the progression of osteoarthritis in the longer term. These options are simply to provide relief of pain. SURGICAL OPTIONS Surgical options can be divided into three groups: arthroscopy, realignment procedures, and joint replacement. Whilst arthroscopy is a relatively small and simple procedure and the idea of a “clean-up” operation seems attractive, there is increasing evidence to suggest that the use of arthroscopy for the treatment of the osteoarthritis provides little benefit compared to non-surgical options over a period of a couple of years. It does however still have a role in some situations. It seems to work better if there is swelling of the knee. It can be useful to address associated pathology such as a tear of the meniscus. It can also be useful by allowing unstable articular cartilage to be removed along with fragments floating in the joint. Once again, an arthroscopy is only aimed at relieving symptoms and does nothing to slow the progression of the osteoarthritis. Indeed, it occasionally seems to aggravate the process and may bring on the need for a knee replacement more quickly than if the arthroscopy had not been performed all. Realignment procedures are called osteotomies. These involve cutting the tibia or femur bone and changing the overall alignment of the leg to make it more “knock-kneed” or sometimes more “bow-legged”. The aim is to take weight away from the part of the knee that is affected by osteoarthritis. Such procedures can only be used in certain patterns of osteoarthritis and are better suited to people under the age of 55. They can however provide good long-term relief and put off the need for joint replacement, whilst at the same time allowing an individual to remain quite active. Replacement involves shaping or cutting the bone ends and applying a metal or polyethylene component to the surface. Usually both sides of the joint are replaced. One can either replace all parts of the knee, which is a total knee replacement or just one part of the knee, which is a partial replacement. Like osteotomies, partial replacement can only be used for certain patterns of osteoarthritis. In general we try to put off joint replacement procedures for as long as possible because of concerns about long-term wear and loosening. In addition, replacement procedures are only compatible with low impact sporting activities. Golf, social or doubles tennis, cycling, and snow skiing are reasonable whereas running, basketball, netball, or any type of football should not be considered, because of the risk of premature wear and loosening of the prosthesis

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