Over 32 million adults in the United States have osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, with the knee being one of the most affected joints. According to the American College of Rheumatology, 46% of people are at risk of developing knee OA in their lifetime.
Understanding Osteoarthritis of the Knee
OA is caused by “wear and tear” on the joints, specifically when the cartilage within a joint begins to break down and the underlying bone begins to change. This is a slow process, typically worsening over time, causing pain, stiffness, swelling, decreased range of motion, and in some cases reduced function or disability.
There are various risk factors for knee OA, but the most common are:
- Joint injury or overuse – such as knee bending and repetitive stress
- Age – the risk of developing OA increases as you get older
- Gender – women, especially after age 50, are more likely to develop OA than men
- Obesity – extra weight puts more stress on joints, particularly weight-bearing joints like the knees, which increases the risk of OA in that joint
- Genetics – those who have family members with OA are more likely to develop it and people who have hand OA are more likely to develop knee OA
New Survey Results
A new survey was conducted with 500 U.S. adults who have been treated for chronic knee pain and/or OA of the knee to determine chronic symptoms, treatment options, and pain management effectiveness. Out of the 500 adults surveyed, 100% of patients have tried some form of treatment to address their knee OA pain, yet 97% still feel a negative impact on their daily lives due to knee OA.
The survey showed that many simple, everyday tasks were more difficult for people suffering from knee pain including: 75% reporting difficulty with climbing stairs, 49% reporting difficulty with sleeping, and 38% reporting difficulty with working at their job. As knee OA is a chronic, degenerative disease that never goes away and worsens over time, these statistics are alarming. About 57% of patients in the survey said they have had knee pain for more than 5 years, and nearly 1 in 3 patients said they’ve suffered for 10 or more years.
The survey was also taken by 200 healthcare professionals (HCPs) who treat patients for chronic knee pain and/or OA of the knee. The HCPs shared that out of all their patients, the 61% who wait too long to receive treatment experience damage to knees or other parts of body, 47% experience longer recovery times, and 47% may require more significant treatment options. Although knee OA is a lifelong disease, treating it quickly can make a big difference.
Additionally, patient participants in the survey shared that their knee OA pain affected them in ways other than the physical, including 9 out of 10 patients reporting missing out on social events and 28% of people reporting that their everyday mental health was negatively affected. The mental health impact of OA induced knee pain is concerning due to 45% of patients using opioids or prescription painkillers to manage their pain.Non-Opioid Options
Luckily, patients now have more choices available for how to manage pain before, during, and after surgery, with new non-opioid options for chronic knee pain and OA of the knee that can help provide immediate, long-lasting pain relief. Healthcare providers tend to recommend that their knee OA patients use a combination of different types of treatments to alleviate pain, or a multimodal pain management. This helps to limit or even eliminate the need for opioids and unwanted side effects such as constipation, nausea, vomiting, and confusion – all of which hinder postsurgical recovery.
This combination may include physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, extended-release steroid injections, and cryoneurolysis, also known as cold therapy.
Cryoneurolysis helps to relieve OA knee pain by freezing the affected nerve, causing a temporary, interruption of pain signals to the brain. This focused cold therapy is applied directly to the nerve to provide pain relief, allowing patients to function more comfortably and experience less pain.
Even though multimodal pain management and non-opioid options, such as cryoneurolysis, exist, many healthcare providers and patients are not aware of them. To get the best care possible, patients need to advocate for themselves and start discussions about their pain management options. Be proactive and talk to your doctor about non-opioid options to manage chronic knee or knee OA pain. For more information, please visit https://www.planagainstpain.com/pain-is-personal/pain-treatment-options/.