Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis throughout the world. It is the result of worn and lost cartilage in the joints, and it typically involves the knees, hips, shoulders, and hands. Unfortunately, most patients do not find significant relief with just one treatment alone. It is not until their doctors combine multiple treatments that they find the relief they are looking for.
A multifaceted approach combining both traditional and alternative therapies is the latest trend. That approach was discussed in length during a recent post published by The Brunswick News in Brunswick, GA. The post featured a local M.D. who is also board certified as a specialist in rehab medicine, sports medicine, and orthopedic surgery.
Dr. Gregory Kelley, M.D. always starts a relationship with a new patient by asking how osteoarthritis is affecting that person’s daily life. He believes it is important to understand how the condition might limit a patient and if anything a patient is doing might be aggravating it.
Slowing Down the Disease
Kelley’s multiple treatment approach starts with strategies designed to slow down the progression of the disease. In addition, he believes in trying to avoid invasive surgery when possible. He recommends things like physical therapy, regular exercise, and weight loss. These three things alone can both strengthen the joints and reduce the pressure they are under, thereby offering pain relief.
Dietary changes are also recommended. Reducing alcohol, red meat, and sugar intake can help quite a bit. A healthier diet also leads to weight loss, which is obviously better for weight-bearing joints.
Slowing down the progression of the disease offers only limited benefit in terms of pain relief. Lost and damaged cartilage is still lost and damaged even following physical therapy and exercise. Therefore, Dr. Kelley recommends a number of alternative treatments. He may start with steroids and/or biologic medications. Regenerative medicine is also on the table.
Mesenchymal stem cell injections and PRP therapy immediately come to mind. Prolotherapy is another option. Curiously, the clinicians at Texas-based Lone Star Pain Medicine say that prolotherapy is designed to encourage inflammation. Why would a doctor want to cause painful inflammation? Because inflammation is a biological signal that tells the body healing is required.
Prolotherapy is believed to jump-start the healing process through inflammation. As for stem cell and PRP injections, they are believed to provide the body with the raw materials it needs to actually heal. As you may already know, stem cells are the building blocks of all human tissue. Likewise, the body relies on platelets and growth factors to heal injuries.
Patients Respond Differently
A multi-treatment approach to osteoarthritis seems quite reasonable given that patients respond to treatments differently. What works for one patient may not necessarily work for another. Some patients find great relief with steroid injections while others experience little or no relief.
It doesn’t make sense to come up with a black-and-white treatment plan applied evenly to all osteoarthritis patients. Rather, it makes more sense to take a multiple treatment approach in order to determine what works and what doesn’t. Those treatments that seem to have a positive effect can be further refined. Those that don’t can be completely disregarded.
Hopefully, Dr. Kelley’s approach to treating osteoarthritis will be adopted by other physicians. As one of the most common forms of arthritis in the world, osteoarthritis affects millions of people. It would be fantastic if more clinicians were willing to put in the time and effort to offer a multiple treatment approach to managing what can be a very painful disease.