Osteoarthritis is a common joint disorder that affects millions of people in the United States. It’s a degenerative disease that results in the deterioration of the cartilage in the joints. This can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the affected area. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but there are treatments available that can help relieve symptoms. This blog post will discuss all you need to know about osteoarthritis: its symptoms, treatment options, and definition!
What is Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It happens when cartilage in your joints wears down over time. Cartilage is a firm, rubbery substance that protects the ends of your bones and helps your joints move smoothly.
Cartilage breaking down can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness. You may feel this in your hands, knees, hips, or spine. Osteoarthritis can make it hard to do your daily activities.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis affects more than 32.5 million adults in the United States. That’s about one in every 12 people.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but there are treatments that can help relieve pain and improve joint function. If you have osteoarthritis, you may be able to slow its progression by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and avoiding injury to your joints.
Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can affect anyone, but certain risk factors can make you more susceptible to developing the condition. Here are some of the most common risk factors for osteoarthritis:
- Age: Osteoarthritis can occur at any age, but it’s more common as you age. The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases as you age because the cartilage in your joints wears down over time. Most people with the condition are 65 years of age or older.
- Weight: Being overweight or obese puts extra strain on your joints, which can develop osteoarthritis.
- Injury: Joint injuries, such as those sustained from playing sports, can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
- Family History: If you have a family member with osteoarthritis, you may be more likely to develop the condition yourself.
- Gender: Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men.
- Repetitive use: Jobs or activities that put repetitive stress on a joint (such as running or playing tennis) can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis in that joint.
Common Causes Of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of joint disease that results from the breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone. Moreover, there are many possible causes of OA, including:
- Inflammation: This is the most common cause of OA.
- Joint deformities: If you have a deformity in your joints, it can put extra stress on the cartilage and lead to OA.
No matter the cause, osteoarthritis can be a painful and debilitating condition. If you think you may be suffering from osteoarthritis, monitor your symptoms.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Symptoms of osteoarthritis often begin gradually and worsen with time. Among the symptoms are:
Osteoarthritis symptoms can also include stiffness. This stiffness is often most noticeable after sitting or lying down for a while. You may feel stiffness when you first wake up in the morning or after a long period of inactivity during the day.
Joint pain is another common symptom of osteoarthritis. The pain may be constant, or it may come and go. It may be worse when you move the joint or put weight on it. Joint pain from osteoarthritis can make it hard to do your normal activities.
Tenderness is when your joint hurts when you touch it, or even if there’s just pressure on it. You may feel tenderness in the joint itself or the muscles and tendons around the joint. Tenderness is different from pain because pain is usually caused by movement. Tenderness can happen even when you’re not moving the joint.
Swelling in the joint is another common symptom. It’s when the area around your joint is puffy or tender. Swelling happens because there’s fluid in the tissues around your joint. The swelling may make the skin around your joint look shiny and tight. You may also have trouble moving the joint because of the swelling.
A grating sensation or “crepitus” is often felt with osteoarthritis. This sensation happens when cartilage in the joint breaks down and rubs against the bone. You may feel crepitus when you move the joint or when there’s pressure applied.
Bone spurs are another common symptom of osteoarthritis. They are growths of bone that form around the joints. They can cause pain and difficulty moving the joint. Osteoarthritis can also cause changes in the shape of the joint. The joint may start to look swollen or deformed. You may have trouble moving the joint through its full range of motion.
Moreover, osteoarthritis symptoms can vary from mild to severe. They may come and go, or they may get worse over time. If you have osteoarthritis, you must talk to your doctor to diagnose the condition and develop a treatment plan. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for osteoarthritis, but many options can help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
When To See The Doctor
If you’re experiencing any osteoarthritis symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible, especially if you’re having pain, stiffness, or swelling in any of your joints. These symptoms could indicate early osteoarthritis, and the sooner you catch it, the better.
Many different treatment options are available for osteoarthritis, so it’s important to get started on a plan as soon as possible. If you wait too long, the condition could progress and become more difficult to treat.
If you’re not sure whether or not you should see a doctor, consider these three factors:
1. The severity of your symptoms: If your symptoms are mild, you may be able to manage them with over-the-counter medications and home remedies. But you’ll need to see a doctor for treatment if they’re more severe.
2. The location of your symptoms: If the symptoms are in one joint, such as your knee or hip, you may be able to treat them with physical therapy or other exercises. But you’ll need to see a doctor if the symptoms are in multiple joints.
3. The duration of your symptoms: If your symptoms come and go, you may be able to wait a little longer to see a doctor. But if they’re constant or getting worse, you should make an appointment as soon as possible.
Remember, the sooner you see a doctor, the better your chance of treating your osteoarthritis and preventing further damage.
There are a few different ways that doctors can diagnose osteoarthritis.
Your doctor will check for joint pain and tenderness and any swelling or redness. They may also ask you to do simple tests, such as moving your joints through their full range of motion or standing on one leg.
X-rays are the most common type of imaging test used to diagnose osteoarthritis. They can show narrowing of the space between your joints and any bone spurs or cysts.
Magnetic resonance imaging
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans can also diagnose osteoarthritis. MRIs can show the damage to your cartilage and any inflammation in your joints. An MRI isn’t commonly used to diagnose osteoarthritis, but it may be used if your doctor suspects you have another condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Blood tests aren’t used to diagnose osteoarthritis, but they may be done to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.
Joint fluid analysis
The joint fluid analysis involves taking a fluid sample from your joints and then looking at it under a microscope. This can help rule out other conditions, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
Your doctor will likely use more than one of these methods to diagnose osteoarthritis. The exact method or combination of methods used will depend on factors such as your age, symptoms, and medical history.
Treatment For Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis can’t be reversed, but some treatments can help relieve the pain and improve joint function.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating osteoarthritis, as the best course of action will vary from person to person depending on the severity of their condition. However, there are a few general treatment options that are commonly used to manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Medications that can help relieve pain and improve joint function include:
This is a pain reliever that can be purchased over-the-counter or by prescription. Taking more than the recommended dosage can lead to liver damage, so it’s important to follow the instructions on the bottle.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
These are other types of pain relievers that can be purchased over-the-counter or by prescription. NSAID works by reducing inflammation, which can help relieve pain.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
These are a type of medication typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, but they can also be effective for treating osteoarthritis. DMARDs work by slowing the progression of joint damage.
This is a type of antidepressant that can be used to treat pain, particularly pain associated with osteoarthritis.
Many different types of therapy can be used to help treat osteoarthritis. Some of the most common therapies include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.
Physical therapy is one of the best ways to treat osteoarthritis. It can help reduce pain, improve joint function, and prevent joint damage.
Many different types of physical therapy exercises can help osteoarthritis. Some of the most common are range-of-motion exercises, stretching exercises, and strength-training exercises. Range-of-motion exercises help to keep the joints flexible and prevent stiffness. Stretching exercises help to improve flexibility and reduce muscle stiffness. Strength-training exercises help to build up the muscles around the joints, which can help to support and protect them.
Physical therapy can also help to improve joint function by helping you learn how to use your joints correctly. Many people with osteoarthritis start to use their joints in a way that makes the pain worse. Physical therapists can teach you how to use your joints in a way that doesn’t worsen the pain. They can also help you learn how to protect your joints from further damage.
Occupational therapy can help people with osteoarthritis in many ways. One way is by helping them to find new and creative ways to do everyday tasks. This can involve finding new ways to hold a cup or brush teeth.
Another way occupational therapy can help is by teaching you how to pace yourself throughout the day. This means learning how to take breaks and rest when you need to. It can also mean learning to use assistive devices, such as canes or walkers.
Occupational therapy can also help you stay connected to the things you love to do. For example, if you enjoy gardening, occupational therapy can help you find ways to continue doing this even with your osteoarthritis. This might involve finding new ways to kneel or sit while gardening.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a pain relief technique that uses electrical current to stimulate the nerves. The electrical impulses block pain signals from getting to the brain. TENS is often used to relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis (OA).
There are many benefits of using TENS for OA:
- It’s a non-invasive and drug-free method of pain relief.
- It’s relatively inexpensive and easy to use.
- TENS can be used as often as needed without significant negative side effects.
If conservative treatments for osteoarthritis haven’t worked or your pain is severe, you may be considering surgery. Several types of surgical procedures can help relieve the pain and disability caused by osteoarthritis.
Joint replacement surgery
Joint replacement surgery is one of the most common and successful surgeries for osteoarthritis. In this procedure, the damaged joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint, called a prosthesis. This type of surgery can be done on almost any joint in your body, but it’s most commonly done on hips and knees.
Joint fusion surgery
Joint fusion surgery is another option for treating osteoarthritis. In this procedure, the surgeon removes the damaged ends of the bones that form the joint and then fuses them. This eliminates the joint’s movement, which can help relieve pain. It’s most commonly done on the spine, but it can also be done on other joints, such as the ankle, elbow, and shoulder.
Osteotomy is a type of surgery that involves cutting and realigning the bone around a joint to relieve pain and improve function. It’s most commonly done on the kneecap, but it can also be done on other joints, such as the hip, shoulder, and ankle.
In addition to medication and surgery, other treatments for osteoarthritis include:
Cortisone is a type of steroid that can be injected into an arthritic joint to help reduce pain and inflammation. The effects of a cortisone injection can last for several months, but the relief is often not permanent.
Cortisone injections are usually given as a series of three injections every three weeks. The number of injections may be increased if the initial series does not provide enough relief.
Lubrication injections for osteoarthritis are a type of treatment that can help relieve pain and improve joint function. They are usually given once a week for three to five weeks. The number of injections may increase if the person does not respond well to the initial treatment.
There are two types of lubrication injections: hyaluronic acid (HA) injections and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections.
- HA injections are the most common type of lubrication injection. HA is a substance that is naturally found in the joints. It helps to cushion and lubricate the joint.
- PRP injections are a newer type of injection. They use a person’s blood to create a concentration of platelets. Platelets are cells that help with healing and tissue repair.
If you’re one of the millions of people with osteoarthritis, you know that the condition can make everyday activities quite difficult. Even simple things like walking or getting out of a chair can be painful.
Making lifestyle changes can help ease your pain and improve your overall quality of life. Here are a few things you can do:
Get regular exercise
Exercise is important for everyone, but it’s especially crucial for people with osteoarthritis. It helps strengthen the muscles around the joints, which in turn helps to take some of the pressure off the joints themselves. Regular exercise also helps increase range of motion and flexibility, both of which can be limited in people with osteoarthritis.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight puts extra pressure on the joints, worsening the pain. Losing even a few pounds can make a big difference. Also, avoid any sudden or drastic weight changes, as these can cause joint pain.
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can, in turn, help reduce osteoarthritis pain. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and certain oils, are also thought to be helpful for people with osteoarthritis.
Many home remedies can help reduce the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis. Some of these include:
Heat and cold therapy
Applying heat or cold to the affected joint can help reduce pain and inflammation. Heat therapy can be done using a heating pad, hot water bottle, or warm compress. Cold therapy can be done using an ice pack, frozen peas, or ice massage.
Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers that gives them their heat. This same compound can be found in a cream form and used to relieve pain from osteoarthritis. When applied topically, capsaicin blocks substance P, a neurotransmitter that sends pain signals to the brain.
Capsaicin creams are available over-the-counter and by prescription. Be sure to follow the directions on the label. Some people may experience a burning sensation when first using capsaicin cream. This usually goes away after a few days of continued use.
Braces are often considered a tool for kids who need help straightening their teeth. But braces can also be used to relieve pain from osteoarthritis.
Braces can help by taking pressure off of the affected joint. This can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
There are a few different types of braces that can be used to treat osteoarthritis. The type of brace that is best for you will depend on the location of your pain and the severity of your symptoms. Different types of braces include
- Ankle braces are one of the most common braces used to treat osteoarthritis. They are often used to relieve pain in the ankle and foot.
- Elbow braces can relieve pain in the elbow, forearm, and hand.
- Knee braces are often used to relieve knee, thigh, and lower leg pain.
Shoe inserts are a common and effective treatment for osteoarthritis. They are placed in the shoes to provide support and cushioning for the feet. They can help to reduce pain and improve mobility. There are many different shoe inserts available. It’s important to choose the right type for your needs.
Many alternative treatments for osteoarthritis can help manage the pain and symptoms associated with the condition. Some of these therapies include:
This therapy involves using thin needles inserted into the skin at specific points on the body. Acupuncture is said to stimulate the release of pain-relieving chemicals in the body and can be used to help relieve pain from osteoarthritis.
There are a number of supplements that can help ease the pain and stiffness associated with this condition.
- Glucosamine supplements
Glucosamine supplements are popular for managing osteoarthritis. Some people take them to help relieve pain, while others take them to help prevent further damage to their joints.
Glucosamine is a sugar molecule that is found naturally in the body. It is also found in some foods, such as shellfish. Supplementing with glucosamine can help increase the levels of this molecule in the body, which can help reduce inflammation and pain.
Chondroitin is a widely-studied supplement for managing osteoarthritis. It works by reducing inflammation and providing lubrication to the joints. Chondroitin is sometimes used in combination with another supplement, glucosamine.
There is some evidence that chondroitin can be helpful for osteoarthritis. It is thought to work by decreasing inflammation and improving cartilage quality. Chondroitin is available as a supplement in pill form. It can also be found in joint-supporting foods, such as bone broth and green-lipped mussel extract.
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat found in abundance in fish and other seafood. Omega-3s have been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing inflammation and joint pain. In fact, omega-3 supplements are often recommended for people with osteoarthritis.
Omega-3s work by reducing inflammation throughout the body. In osteoarthritis, this can help reduce pain and stiffness in the joints. Omega-3 supplements are available in both capsule and liquid form. Taking omega-3 supplements with food is important, as they can cause an upset stomach.
Preparing for your Appointment
When you’re dealing with osteoarthritis pain, the last thing you want to do is go to the doctor. But trust us, it’s worth it! Here’s how to prepare for your appointment to get the most out of it.
First, make sure you have a list of all of your symptoms. This includes the pain you’re experiencing and any stiffness, swelling, or redness. Be sure to note when these symptoms occur and how long they last.
Next, keep track of your daily activities. This will help your doctor determine what’s causing your pain and how best to treat it. For example, if your pain worsens after walking, mention this.
Finally, don’t forget to ask questions! Your doctor is there to help you, so don’t be afraid to speak up. If you’re not sure about something, just ask.
Preparing for your doctor’s appointment may seem like a pain, but it’s really not. You’ll get the most out of your visit by taking the time to do it.
To sum up, osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease leading to cartilage deterioration. It can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. OA can develop in any joint in the body, but it most commonly affects the hands, knees, hips, and spine.
Many risk factors for osteoarthritis include age, obesity, joint injury, and genetics. There is no cure for OA, but there are treatments that can help relieve the symptoms.
If you think you may have osteoarthritis, it’s important to see your doctor for a diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression of the disease and improve your quality of life.
Contact us today to book an appointment with one of our specialists. We can help you get on the path to pain-free living!