How is joint pain treated?

When treating joint pain, we focus on preserving the joints and keeping a person functional and able to continue an active lifestyle. We begin conservatively with activity modifications that can help relieve joint pain. Next, we look at oral medication or anti-inflammatories to relieve pain. Then we move along this progressive scale of treatment, getting more aggressive as we go.

Sometimes an intra-articular injection, including steroids, can help relieve pain. There are other injections that help replace lubrication in the joint. These are called viscosupplementation injections, and there are different types. People often refer to them as rooster comb injections.

Then we move along, getting a little more aggressive until we come to arthroscopy, which is another treatment for joint pain. It's very important for joint preservation, because it can hopefully eliminate what is causing the pain before it progresses to arthritis. In that way, we can preserve the joint and hopefully avoid a joint replacement down the road.

Obviously, the end-all treatment is an arthroplasty or joint replacement, where we replace the articular surface of the joint with metal and plastic.

I always include the person in these decisions. Obviously, no surgery is without its risks, so it's usually the person’s choice. When they come to that point in their life where they're not able to continue with the same lifestyle that they wish to enjoy, then I recommend they go ahead with a joint replacement or a surgery, be it arthroscopy or arthroplasty.

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