Cartilage & Arthritis
Non-surgical treatments - Dr. Michael Lehmann
Can exercise help osteoarthritis?
Physiotherapy is extremely helpful in treating osteoarthritis. What's important is to train coordination skills as effectively as possible in order to build up the muscles around the affected joints and restore the joints' often restricted range of movement using specialist stretching techniques. This allows more even and more harmonious joint movements to be achieved and harmful load peaks on the cartilage tissue to be avoided. Important: Regular exercise is of fundamental importance for cartilage health. This is because each individual joint strain, e.g. walking on the feet, squeezes low-nutrient fluid out of the joint tissue (similar to wringing out a sponge). Conversely, when strain is relieved, e.g. when lifting the leg, nutrient-rich joint fluid is absorbed by the cartilage. Movement is therefore one of the most important means of stimulating the exchange of fluid inside the cartilage, keeping this specialist tissue healthy and avoiding osteoarthritis.
What medicines can help with cartilage damage?
Arthritis changes can cause severe pain. Many sufferers are therefore dependent on painkillers. The first-line treatment in most cases is paracetamol. Other options include ibuprofen, Naproxen or diclofenac. Cortisone preparations can also be helpful in selected cases. Combined preparations with glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen, hyaluronic acid, vitamins and trace elements may be another option (e.g. Orthomol Arthro plus) when it comes to stabilising the cartilage and reducing symptoms.
Which medication and which dose is most suitable should always be discussed with an experienced clinician.
Acupuncture, trace elements and others for cartilage damage
Some sufferers also find certain alternative therapies beneficial, although their effectiveness has not always been scientifically proven. These therapies include acupuncture, homoeopathy, vitamins C and E, as well as the trace elements selenium, copper and zinc, for example. Following sporting injuries or surgery, enzyme therapies can also be of benefit to support tissue healing. Other options include hyaluronic acid preparations in the form of injections to improve gliding properties or magnetic field therapies to stimulate the metabolism of the joint or increase cartilage synthesis.