Road Today - - Guest Column: Health -

One of the most fre­quent com­plaints that I en­counter in my clinic among pro­fes­sional truck driv­ers is knee pain. Although there are many pos­si­ble causes of knee pain, os­teoarthri­tis is the most com­mon cause in my pa­tients over the age of fifty. In­ter­est­ingly, I tend to treat more os­teoarthri­tis of the left knee in driv­ers. This may be due to the fact that it is the leg that presses the clutch. While age is a ma­jor risk fac­tor for os­teoarthri­tis, even young peo­ple can de­velop it. Ex­ces­sive body weight is also a com­mon cause. Although an in­crease in body weight puts pres­sure on many joints of the body, it mostly af­fects the knees. Sci­en­tists have con­cluded that there is also a hered­i­tary com­po­nent to os­teoarthri­tis. Thus, if any mem­ber of your fam­ily has been di­ag­nosed with os­teoarthri­tis, you are at a greater risk.

So, what is os­teoarthri­tis ex­actly? Es­sen­tially, it is a con­di­tion in which the car­ti­lage in­side the knee joint de­te­ri­o­rates due to wear and tear. This in turn leads to less shock ab­sorp­tion within the knee joint as well as rub­bing of the bones that make up the joint.

All of this re­sults in pain, swelling and stiff­ness of the knee joint. A de­crease in joint mo­bil­ity and creak­ing of the joint are also com­mon symp­toms. The symp­toms of os­teoarthri­tis tend to in­crease dur­ing phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and sub­side with rest.

If you sus­pect that you have os­teoarthri­tis of the knee, it is im­por­tant to con­sult with your doc­tor. He or she will be able to di­ag­nose this con­di­tion by tak­ing a de­tailed med­i­cal his­tory and per­form­ing a phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion. If nec­es­sary, your doc­tor will re­quest spe­cial test­ing such as x-ray and MRI to bet­ter vi­su­al­ize the joint.

The pri­mary goal of treat­ment is to re­duce pain and in­flam­ma­tion and re­store joint mo­bil­ity. Treat­ment plans usu­ally in­clude a com­bi­na­tion of ex­er­cise, weight loss, and med­i­ca­tion. The most com­mon drugs pre­scribed for os­teoarthri­tis are pain re­liev­ers and anti-in­flam­ma­to­ries. If con­ser­va­tive treat­ments are un­suc­cess­ful, cor­ti­cos­teroid in­jec­tions may be rec­om­mended. This form of treat­ment in­volves in­ject­ing pow­er­ful anti-in­flam­ma­tory med­i­ca­tions di­rectly into the knee joint. When all other form of treat­ment fail, surgery may be the only op­tion.

Arthro­scopic knee surgery in­volves a sur­geon mak­ing small in­ci­sions in the joint and in­sert­ing a small cam­era to look in­side the knee. Once there, the sur­geon will clean the joint out by re­mov­ing any loose par­ti­cles and re­pair­ing the joint sur­faces. This type of surgery is most of­ten per­formed on younger pa­tients in or­der to de­lay more in­va­sive surg­eries. If the de­gen­er­a­tion of the knee is too se­vere for re­pair, joint re­place­ment surgery is the only other op­tion. This surgery may in­volve re­plac­ing one side or both sides of the joint.

Ar­ti­fi­cial joints are most com­monly made from met­als or plas­tic. Cur­rently, ar­ti­fi­cial knee joints are ex­pected to last for ap­prox­i­mately twenty years de­pend­ing on how ac­tive the in­di­vid­ual is. In gen­eral, the re­sults of knee re­place­ment surgery are very good.

Un­til next time, drive safely!

Dr Christo­pher H. Singh Chi­ro­prac­tor, runs Trans Canada Chi­ro­prac­tic at 230 Truck Stop in Wood­stock, Ont. He can be reached at 519-421-2024 E.mail: chris_s­ingh@sym­pa­tico.ca

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