Did you know that a two year study published May 16, 2017 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that quarterly steroid injections for knee osteoarthritis increased cartilage loss without any clinical benefit.
This study examined two groups of people with knee osteoarthritis with one group getting quarterly injections of steroids and the other group getting a quarterly injection of saline which is salt water. Patients rated pain scales 3 months after the injections and the steroid group was only slightly better, but not enough to be statistically significant.
The main finding was that the steroid group after two years had lost on average of .21mm in cartilage thickness, whereas the saline group had only lost .10mm. MRI was used to measure the cartilage rather than x-ray because it is more sensitive and can detect smaller changes.
The authors noted that since pain was measured at 3 months any transient relief from steroids would have been missed. Relief from steroids is greatest at 4 weeks. Although the cartilage loss was not associated with increased pain during the study, it is associated with a higher risk of knee replacement surgery.
If you suffer from osteoarthritis in your knee what are your options?
1. Studies have shown benefits with glucosamine SULFATE and not glucosamine HCL. The studies on knees have had the best results. 1500 mg per day of glucosamine sulfate for at least 6 months is recommended. Glucosamine sulfate helps your cartilage grow so it works slowly, which is why you can’t expect it to work like a pain reliever.
2. Exercise done properly can help tremendously. The best would be something in the water such as swimming, water aerobics, or simply walking in the water. The less pressure you put on the knee the better so if you can’t get in the water try something like cycling.
3. There are different anti-inflammatories such as fish oil, boswelia, bromelain, turmeric, and willow bark that have not been shown to hurt your stomach, or accelerate cartilage damage. Ibuprofen and naproxen in some studies have been shown to accelerate the degeneration of cartilage.
4. A Chiropractor that has experience treating arthritic joints off the spine can make these non-drug, and non-surgical approaches work even better. In our office we use vibration therapy that can improve knee movement after the first treatment. Then infrared light treatment and kinesio tape can improve knee function on the first treatment. Of course we would also make sure that the nerves going to the knee that direct the healing process do not have interference.
Before you get an injection or knee replacement you have nothing to lose by trying a natural non-invasive approach. We offer the first treatment of the vibration therapy complimentary so that you can see if works well before you pay. Click here for a complimentary consultation to learn if you are a good candidate for this approach.