Arthritis Forum Questions & Answers

Arthritis is a topic people want to learn more about, which is why the Providence Little Company of Mary's Center for Health Education held a public forum on arthritis education. Dr. Albert Reff was asked to be a guest presenter during the forum and was able to provide people with answers to their osteoarthritis concerns.

Many people who attended the forum suffer from arthritis, symptoms of which include:

  • Swelling in the joint
  • Stiffness, particularly in the morning
  • Inability to move a joint normally or walk a reasonable distance
  • Recurring pain or tenderness
  • Warmth and redness in the joint

And, there are a variety of questions patients have when it comes to arthritis pain and the options available to them to alleviate this pain, including surgery for joint replacement. For those who couldn't attend the forum, we've compiled a list of questions that were asked of Dr. Reff by the audience:

Q:  "Will gel injections help my bone on bone knees, or am I just buying time for a knee replacement?"

Dr. Reff:  "If you have a bone on bone knee you are destined to get a knee replacement, and gel injections may buy you some time but it won't solve the problem. Similarly, steroid injections might buy you some pain free time but it will not solve the problem."

Q:  "How long does it take to perform a hip replacement surgery, and how long will the recovery time be?"

Dr. Reff:  "In general, depending upon the surgeon and his or her particular preferences, it can take anywhere from an hour to two hours for a total hip. And the same is true for a total knee, it is in that time frame. As for recovery, it relates to how quickly you can manage exercises and gain control over your muscles. In general, patients are back to doing normal functions by three months whether it's a hip or knee."

Q:  "What options are available for one's hip if there is no cartilage?"

Dr. Reff:  "If there is truly no cartilage, you are essentially looking at a hip replacement. Other than that, it's a struggle to keep you functional and pain free, if at all possible."

Q:  "What happens to the bone when you are drilling it to attach the prosthetic device?"

Dr. Reff:  Bone is very tolerant of mechanical alteration; whether you drill it or file it, you don't affect the remaining bone and it retains its living properties and it's ability to grow.

Q:  "What medication would you use to treat sore muscles that aren't caused by joint pain?"

Dr. Reff:  "If you have a sore muscle and the joint itself is good, I think that mild analgesics (over the counter medications like Tylenol and Aleve) are adequate to manage that type of problem, in addition to stretching exercises, strengthening exercises and a good physical therapy approach. Note: Check with your physician before taking any medication.

Q:  "I've had a total knee replacement for ten years now, and it's the best thing I could've ever done. How do I know when the plastic baring surface is due for revision or replacement?"

Dr. Reff:  "You can see it on an X-ray and it will be pretty obvious to your doctor if that's happening. If this happens it can be associated with symptoms or not. You might feel pain or unusual looseness of the joint, but by picking up on this early you should be able to avoid this. I see patients back once a year to make certain everything is on track."

To have your questions answered about any arthritic pain you might be feeling, contact Dr. Reff's office and schedule an appointment