What is joint preservation?
What are the goals of joint preservation?
This technique aims to –
- Reduce and relieve your pain
- Minimise your chances of getting further injuries
- Improve your joint function
- Keep your cartilage healthy
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve your quality of life
How is joint preservation different from joint replacement surgery?
What are the causes of joint pain?
Joint pain has many causes. These include –
- Injury or trauma
- Sports injuries
- Muscle strain
- Infections, such as dengue, chikungunya and other viral fevers
How are joint injuries diagnosed?
Your doctor will take a detailed history of your symptoms, your medical history, and comorbidities and do a physical examination to check for tenderness, swelling, movement, bony spurs etc. They’ll advise you to undergo imaging techniques such as –
- X-ray: This is helpful in detecting injuries, fractures, osteoarthritic changes etc.
- CT scan: A CT scan gives a more accurate and detailed image of the underlying disease
- MRI scan: MRI scans allow your doctor to visualise your bones, joints and nearby soft tissues
- Arthroscopy: In this, a narrow tube connected to a camera is inserted into your joint and is used to diagnose, and sometimes treat joint problems
Your doctor decides the next course of action based on your symptoms and the imaging findings.
Who’s eligible for joint preservation?
Your doctor decides if you’re eligible for this technique based on –
- Your age: There is a higher success rate among younger patients, especially those under 50 years old
- Your overall health: You’re more likely to benefit if you have a good health history and are generally active
How severe your joint deformity is: The more severe your joint deformity is, the less likely that you’ll be eligible for joint preservation. In contrast, if only a small part of your joint is damaged, you can undergo this procedure
- The location: This technique is more suitable for the knee and hip joints
- Your weight: The more you weigh, the greater the pressure on your joints. If you’re overweight or obese, your doctor will more likely recommend replacement surgery instead of preservation
What is done in joint preservation?
It encompasses both nonsurgical and surgical methods –
Nonsurgical methods –
- Conservative therapy: This includes –
– Using a cast, brace or crutches for support
– Strengthening exercises to maintain your mobility and build up your muscles
– Lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding activities that increase your pain, maintaining good posture, resting and getting enough sleep, avoiding lifting heavy objects etc.
- Your doctor injects hyaluronic acid or corticosteroids into your joint to reduce inflammation and pain
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy: Platelets are rich in special factors, called growth factors, that help relieve pain and promote healing. Your doctor takes your blood, centrifuges it to separate the platelets from the rest of the constituents of the blood and then injects it into the affected joint.
- Stem cell therapy: Stem cells are special cells that can differentiate into many different types of cells. In stem cell therapy, your doctor takes stem cells from your bone marrow and injects them into the affected joint.
Surgical methods –
- Osteotomy: Your doctor cuts and reshapes the bone in the affected joint to relieve stress and increase the joint space. It’s minimally invasive and carries a short recovery time as well
- Cartilage transplant: In this, the damaged cartilage is replaced by a new one and placed in the damaged joint
- Partial joint replacement: This is done when there is damage to a smaller or limited area. Your doctor only replaces the damaged part, leaving the rest of your joint and bone intact
What are the benefits of joint preservation?
This technique offers the following advantages –
- It restores joint function and reduces joint pain successfully
- It’s minimally invasive
- It recreates the natural shape and contour of your joint
- It has lesser complications and infections compared to joint replacement surgery
- It carries a faster recovery time
- Your active lifestyle can be resumed easily
- It can help you avoid joint replacement surgery in the future