Osteoarthritis Treatment And Common Causes

Jun 14, 2022
Osteoarthritis Treatment And Common Causes
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, otherwise known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). This condition affects millions of people globally and it is most commonly diagnosed in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

Osteoarthritis Treatment And Common Causes

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, otherwise known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). This condition affects millions of people globally and it is most commonly diagnosed in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

Known as the wear-and-tear disease, osteoarthritis is most commonly found in older patients but can also be caused by joint injuries or repeated stress on the joints. Patients will notice pain, stiffness, tenderness, swelling, lack of mobility, or a grating sensation when suffering from osteoarthritis.

While osteoarthritis damage cannot be reversed, it can be easily managed and maintained. Treatment options are widespread, ranging from medications to surgery for more advanced cases.

The good news is that you can work with your local physician or pain specialist at Pain Management Associates to get a diagnosis, treatment plan, and individualized care. Read on to get more info about osteoarthritis diagnosis and treatment or contact our pain specialists today to set up an appointment.

Note – The below information should not be taken as medical advice and is merely intended as a guide to understand osteoarthritis treatment options available. Please consult with a medical professional for all diagnosis and treatment options.

What is Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis Treatment And Common Causes

Osteoarthritis is inflammation or injury that causes cartilage around the edges of bones to break down over time. It has two types: primary and secondary.

Primary osteoarthritis is the most common, occurring around fingers, thumbs, spine, hips, knees, and toes.

Secondary osteoarthritis happens alongside a pre-existing joint abnormality; these can include injuries, traumas, repeated sports stressors, inflammation, gout, genetic disorders, and more.

Although osteoarthritis is the breakdown of protective cartilage around the bone, it affects the entire joint. This causes inflammation, changes in the bone and tissue, and the muscle of the area.

Osteoarthritis Symptoms

Patients who experience osteoarthritis do so over an extended period of time. This means symptoms often start out mild and worsen with severity over time. The most common symptoms patients are likely to experience include:

  • Pain in the affected joints after or during movement
  • Stiffness following periods of inactivity
  • Tenderness with pressure
  • Loss of mobility
  • Grating sensation along the bone, including cracking or popping
  • The appearance of Bone Spurs, or hard lumps, around the area
  • Swelling due to inflammation
  • Chronic pain caused by joint pain and stiffness
  • Lack of sleep due to joint pain

Common Causes of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis Treatment And Common Causes

Because osteoarthritis is a condition that happens over an extended period of time, it is often hard to pinpoint a particular cause. More often, there are risk factors that are associated with the condition. These include:

  • Older Age: Due to being a “wear and tear” condition, osteoarthritis is most common in patients over age 55
  • Sex: Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men
  • Obesity: Extra body weight causes strain and stress on the joints of the hips and knees, in addition to fat tissue creating proteins that are the cause of inflammation around joints
  • Joint Injuries: Joint injuries incurred from sports, accidents, or other activities can cause osteoarthritis, even years later after the injury has healed
  • Repeated Stress: Repetitive stress on the joint is likely to cause osteoarthritis
  • Genetics: Some patients are predisposed to developing osteoarthritis due to genetics or genetic conditions
  • Bone Deformities: Those with malformed joints or bad cartilage are more likely to develop osteoarthritis
  • Metabolic Diseases: If the body produces too much iron or if you suffer from diabetes, osteoarthritis is more likely to occur

How to Diagnose Osteoarthritis

When you set up an appointment with your physician or pain specialist to diagnose osteoarthritis, there are a few different methods you should expect in order to receive a confirmation of the diagnosis.

Most commonly, your doctor will check the affected joints for swelling, tenderness, and mobility. A blood test can help rule out other conditions and a joint fluid analysis can provide confirmation. In severe cases, an x-ray or MRI will be recommended, though neither is necessarily required to make the initial diagnosis.

Treatments for Osteoarthritis

Always talk to your doctor about what they recommend as the best form of treatment for you and your case. Osteoarthritis cannot be reversed. Instead, osteoarthritis treatment is about stopping the symptoms from getting worse and managing the pain.

Here are some of the more common osteoarthritis treatment options you should expect to explore:

  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Medications like Tylenol or NSAIDs are effective at managing the pain when taken responsibility, but you should consult with your doctor as extended use carries multiple side effects and risks.
  • NSAIDs Gel: Gels carry fewer side effects and are still proven to help reduce the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis.
  • Physical Therapy: Gentle, everyday exercises can help strengthen the joint while improving mobility and reducing pain.
  • Occupational Therapy: This is recommended if everyday activities aggravate the area and patients need assistance adapting their life to ease the pain.
  • TENS: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can offer short-term pain reduction for some patients.
  • Cortisone Injections: Cortisone injections can help alleviate pain for several weeks. However, long-term use of these injections can actually make the condition worse, so they are limited to only a few times every year and you should consult with your doctor on the right course of treatment.
  • Bone Realignment: In the case of osteoarthritis in the knees, surgery for bone realignment may be considered to shift your body weight off of the area that has been worn down.
  • Joint Replacement: In some severe cases, joint replacement may be recommended to remove the damaged joint and replace it instead with plastic or metal parts. Surgery carries varying risks and artificial joints also run the risk of needing to be replaced down the line.

Managing Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis Treatment And Common Causes

There are many at-home ways to help manage osteoarthritis in addition to seeking professional treatments. Talk with your doctor about which at-home treatments you should implement into your treatment and management strategy to live the fullest quality of life.

  • Stretching and Movement
  • Swimming Exercises
  • Hot and Cold Applications
  • External Applications (Gels, Oils, or Extracts)
  • Braces and Inserts
  • Acupuncture
  • Nutritional Supplements
  • Weight Loss
  • Dietary Plans

Seeking Osteoarthritis Treatment

Osteoarthritis Treatment And Common Causes

You should seek treatment for osteoarthritis when the pain is severe, persistent, or interferes with your quality of life, including sleep or day-to-day activities.

The doctors at Pain Management Associates are familiar with osteoarthritis treatment in patients of all ages and backgrounds. We work to create a treatment plan that complements your lifestyle and considers all areas of your life that have been affected.

Get in touch with our osteoarthritis doctors today or explore our treatment page for more information.

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