knee osteoarthritis treatments in kansas City

What You Should Know About Knee Osteoarthritis Treatments

Your knees are a crucial component for proper mobility, but when osteoarthritis strikes, it can negatively impact your daily life. If you’re facing this issue, know that you’re not alone. In fact, osteoarthritis affects over 32.5 million adults in the U.S.

Whether you have a clear diagnosis or you’re looking for more information, Dr. Clymer at APEX Orthopedics has spent years understanding, diagnosing, and treating knee osteoarthritis for a variety of patients. Read on to learn more about knee osteoarthritis treatments available in Kansas City.

What is knee osteoarthritis?

Knee osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the wear and tear of the cartilage around the knee joint, which leads to inflammation, pain, and even joint degeneration.

The knee is a hinge joint, which allows for flexion and extension. It is also the strongest and largest joint in the body. There are three bony components to the anatomy of the knee:

(1) The end of your thigh bone (femur)
(2) The head of your shin bone (tibia)
(3) The kneecap (patella)

Joints are covered with articular cartilage that protect the connecting bones from grinding against each other. In the knee joint, the cartilage is two wedge-shaped pieces that aid in shock absorbing. These pieces are called the meniscus.

Over time, the meniscus can break down from years of wear and tear. They become thinner and thinner, leading to less protection for the joint. As the joints begin to rub, especially if there isn’t enough space between the two, it causes inflammation, discomfort, and pain.

Diagnosis for knee osteoarthritis requires an examination from a physician along with tests such as X-rays or ultrasounds. But you may have an idea on whether you have osteoarthritis based on these symptoms:

  • Joint stiffness, especially after you’ve been sitting or lying down
  • Pain and swelling around knee (can be a sharp pain or dull ache)
  • Feeling of the joints crunching when you move
  • Difficulty bending or straightening your knee
  • Knee locking up while you’re moving
  • More pain in rainy weather

Some people are more prone to knee osteoarthritis than others. Factors that come into play include:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Work injuries
  • Physical activity (especially from athletes)
  • Obesity

It’s common for osteoarthritis to appear around a person’s 50s, but it can happen earlier if there’s an underlying issue. For example, someone with an injury or a significant genetic predisposition might be diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis in their 40s.

Most people can tolerate osteoarthritis in the shoulders, elbows, and ankles, but joints that affect walking (such as the knees and hips) become a larger issue. For most people, it comes down to two choices: deal with the main or seek out a knee osteoarthritis treatment.

Types of knee osteoarthritis treatments

Finding the right knee osteoarthritis treatment starts with an assessment. You can think of osteoarthritis as a spectrum, with some instances being more severe than others. Dr. Clymer always focuses on each individual before creating a treatment plan. During an initial appointment, he often asks questions to understand factors such as:

  • What caused your knee osteoarthritis?
  • How severe is your osteoarthritis?
  • Is the pain tolerable?
  • What are your lifestyle goals?
  • How has knee osteoarthritis affected those goals?

From there, Dr. Clymer can decide whether more conservative knee osteoarthritis treatments will suffice or if you would benefit more from surgery.

Conservative treatment options for KNEE osteoarthritis

Despite what you may believe, most people do not require surgery. With proper tools and guidance, many find pain relief through alternative measures. Here are the conservative options we often recommend for our patients in lieu of orthopedic surgery (or combined with surgery in some cases).


Many people believe that the best thing to do for the joints is to rest. Whenever pain flares, rest can be helpful, however, joints love to move. Joints depend on natural lubrication from synovial fluid. Similarly to how oil moves gears, synovial fluid helps move your joints. First, movement increases the amount of synovial fluid, which can help reduce pain. Second, motion increases circulation through the entire body. That circulation helps supply the necessary nutrients and oxygens needed to promote joint health.

You don’t have to be aggressive. Simply lifting light weights or taking slow walks a few times a week can help you manage your knee osteoarthritis.


At times the pain becomes too much and hinders movement. In those instances, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil) or prescription medications. Especially with NSAIDs, you should always talk to your doctor to ensure they are the right knee osteoarthritis treatment for you. Side effects include stomach irritation, ulcers, or even kidney damage. Reasonable dosing and monitoring can help alleviate those side effects.


Another pain management option for knee osteoarthritis are injections directly into the joint. Cortisone injections can help with inflammation and tend to last for 3 to 6 months before you would need another one. Many people manage their arthritis simply through injections alone.

Regenerative medicine

Regenerative medicine options such as stem cell injections or platelet-rich plasma can help replace worn or damaged tissue. This option works best if you have mild-to-moderate arthritis and are a younger patient. People with severe arthritis tend to do better with other knee osteoarthritis treatments since regenerative results are spotty in more extreme cases.

Knee arthroscopy

Sometimes some patients don’t require complete surgery. Instead, they need more of a joint clean up to feel some relief. If your arthritic knee has poor cartilage, snaps, or gets puffy you could benefit from a knee arthroscopy. With a knee arthroscopy, Dr. Clymer cleans out dirty fluid and smoothes out the edges of the joint to help the knee function and feel better.

Total knee replacement surgery for knee osteoarthritis

When conservative treatments don’t work, talk to your doctor about a total knee replacement. Keep in mind that this is your decision, not your physician’s. There is no rush for you to make the choice, and it is up to your timeline and your goals when you want to proceed with surgery. However, you don’t want to suffer through pain longer than necessary or have to halt on the activities you enjoy in life.

As a general rule, Dr. Clymer tells patients that if you can’t function, stay active, and keep your weight under control, then surgery is probably your best option.

Many people believe it’s best to wait until later in life for a joint replacement, leading them to deal with pain and discomfort until they are in their 70s. However, we believe that opting for surgery in your 60s, if possible, gives you more time to enjoy the benefits of a total knee replacement.

How do I know if total joint replacement is the right choice?

The answer as to whether or not you need a total knee replacement depends on your X-rays. Normally, there is a certain amount of space between the joints. If that space is appropriate, we could probably treat your knee osteoarthritis with conservative measures. However, if there is little to no joint space and the joint is rocking, spurring, impinging, or becoming unaligned, then it might be time for surgery.

We understand that surgery may be a scary choice, but total joint replacements are fairly common and a vast majority of patients do just fine. Those who don’t do well (or are at a higher risk) tend to have underlying conditions such as weight issues, heart disease, and diabetes. In those cases, it’s best to get as healthy as possible before you proceed with orthopedic surgery.

Many fail to realize that what you do after surgery is just as important as the surgery itself. If you get surgery then continue living an inactive lifestyle, you won’t do your body much good. On the other hand, if you stay active and will do the work on your own, then a total knee replacement can be extremely effective.

What to expect during recovery

If you don’t have a strong support system at home, you’ll need to stay at a facility for 1 to 3 days. Those with help at home can leave after a day. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to help you manage any discomfort. Remember, mobility is key. Therefore you’ll want to start moving using a walker and physical therapy assistance (in house or at a facility).

Knee surgery patients typically require a little more physical therapy than other joint surgeries such as the hip. That is mainly because the knee has a tendency to become stiff and hard to move. However, once the recovery process is complete, most people can expect their knee replacement to last for the rest of their lives.

Get to know Dr. Clymer and APEX Orthopedics

Dr. Clymer specializes in upper and lower extremity general orthopedics along with total joint arthroscopy, lumbar spine treatments, and sports medicine. For decades he has successfully provided knee osteoarthritis treatments for a variety of patients to help them move and feel better.

With the help of the APEX’s private practice model, Dr. Clymer ensures each patient receives the most value that doesn’t involve hidden fees or outlandish pricing.

The core of his success lies in proper diagnosis. An appointment with Dr. Clymer includes the highest quality technology to pinpoint a patient’s underlying musculoskeletal conditions. From there, he can better understand which knee osteoarthritis treatment will work best for you.

For a thorough evaluation with Dr. Clymer, call us at 913-642-0200 or schedule an appointment today.

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