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Stages of Degenerative Arthritis and its Treatment [퇴행성 관절염의 단계와 치료방법]

Insignificant pain after getting hurt, find a hospital before cartilage deteriorates

Degenerative arthritis is a representative disease of the elder. There is a difference in degree, but no one can get away from it as it comes with age. As you go up and down the stairs, your knees squeak, you will hear a crackle in your knees when you stand up after sitting, strange sensations when you are trying to sleep, and on the rainy day your knees will swell and you will need to take medicine, a type of pain only those who experienced it can understand.

Degenerative arthritis is a disease in which articular cartilage is gradually damaged by degenerative changes and damage to bones, cartilage, and ligaments that form joints, resulting in inflammation and pain. Diagnosis is possible by radiographic examination and can be classified into four stages according to the degree of cartilage damage.

In the early stages of degenerative arthritis (stage 1), there is no great inconvenience in daily life, but in the middle stages (stages 2 to 3), the situation changes rapidly. Particularly in the third stage, the articular cartilage is 50% more worn than normal, and the joints are stiff and swollen, causing pain even when walking flat terrain. At the end of arthritis stage 4, normal walking is not possible, the lower limbs are bent outwards, and the knees are deformed.

Cartilage does not have nerve cells, so even if the pain is not severe, you can miss the time when treatment is most effective. If you fail early treatment, the number of hospital visits will only increase along with the sense of guilt.

The ideal treatment for degenerative arthritis is having the diseased joint cartilage return to its previous form as fresh, thick, elastic, joint cartilage, but unfortunately there is no such treatment yet. Therefore, treatment should be focused on reducing pain and maintaining joint function through symptomatic treatment.

In general, the treatment of degenerative arthritis is initially treated with drugs with analgesic and anti-inflammatory action. In addition, conservative therapy such as physical therapy, exercise therapy, manual therapy, and extracorporeal shock wave treatment to reduce joint pain and strengthen muscles is performed and the course is observed. However, if the pain worsens even after such treatment, doctors usually recommend surgical treatment.

But nowadays, new injection treatments have been developed ahead of surgery, and are doing well. Gene injection therapy can be performed in a medical institution that has been fully certified by the Centers for Disease Control. The injection of gene cell therapy is given directly into the joint via ultrasound without surgery.

Gene injection therapy has the effect of improving the immune environment at the joints to block inflammation, relieve pain and improve function. If properly performed by medical staff with sufficient experience and know-how, patients will be able to get rid of the pain with a single “waiting shot”. However, in the fourth stage of severe degenerative change, the results are insignificant. Therefore, it is very important to have an accurate diagnosis after the procedure.

Written with the help of Dr. Kim Kyung Tae, General Surgery Dept., Nasaret International Hospital
Original article by Kiho Ilbo 2018 Jul 11


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