Wear and tear on your joints is a natural part of aging and can even occur earlier in life due to injury, overuse, obesity or genetics. For more than 32.5 million Americans, this wear and tear eventually results in osteoarthritis and frequently it’s in the knees. Osteoarthritis is a condition where the flexible tissue between joints wears down, causing pain and stiffness. It is the most common form of arthritis, and when it occurs in such a crucial part of the body as the knees, it can affect your ability to run, walk or even complete daily tasks.
Surgery can help knee arthritis. However, many arthritis sufferers want to avoid surgery or have been told they are not a good candidate for knee surgery. Luckily, primary care doctors such as Jeff Svec, MD, exist to help relieve their pain without surgery. He is board-certified in both primary care and sports medicine, giving his patients unique access to non-surgical ways to manage their joint pain.
“It’s important to try non-surgical treatments before jumping to the last resort, which could be a total knee replacement. That is a very serious surgery and a big decision to make,” Dr. Svec said. “So, I provide patients with effective in-office treatments tailored to suit them and their lifestyles. There’s no way to reverse arthritis, but we’re able to drastically improve quality of life with these types of treatments.”
At UT Health Physicians, Dr. Svec offers modern, effective in-office treatments that can include a combination of topical creams, medications, injections and physical therapy.
“Part of the discomfort of arthritis is that it makes knees feel tight and stiff,” Dr. Svec said. “So, in my office, I remove fluid buildup in the joint and give injections to ease the pain every three to six months. I often include a topical cream medication to help the knee feel better longer.”
Prescription oral medications used to treat knee arthritis can include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), COX-2 inhibitors and antidepressants. NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors help to decrease inflammation, swelling and joint pain while antidepressants may help decrease chronic pain. Over-the-counter oral medication, such as acetaminophen, can help relieve pain from knee arthritis as well.
Topical NSAIDs in the form of ointments and creams can be applied over the affected joints and absorbed through the skin to reduce pain. Capsaicin cream is an over-the-counter option for topical medication.
Additionally, Dr. Svec performs injections with the guidance of ultrasound. Knee injections deliver medicine directly inside the knee joint capsule to reduce painful symptoms associated with osteoarthritis. The various injection types include cortisone and hyaluronic acid.
Dr. Svec may also recommend physical therapy, including range-of-motion exercises that focus on improving the ability to bend and straighten the knee and improving flexibility to allow for increased motion. He may also recommend muscle-strengthening exercises for the muscles surrounding the worn-down joint to help preserve its joint health.
Patients with joint pain benefit from seeing primary care doctors like Dr. Svec for this type of treatment because they don’t have to visit a specialist, they get to spend more time with their doctor and all of the treatment is offered in the same office building, UT Health Hill Country.
“My patients really appreciate that I’m located in a primary care office because it allows me to spend more time teaching them techniques and explaining the different treatments available to them,” Dr. Svec said. “Having ongoing communication and education with my patients is very important to me. It empowers them to take control of their chronic pain so they can live healthy, happy lives.”
To make an appointment with Dr. Svec or any of the other providers at UT Health Hill Country, call 210-450-6800 or visit UTHealthHillCountry.com.