Osteoarthritis and Treatments Options
Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis. This condition alone has affected approximately 27 million Americans. Osteoarthritis can be caused by the aging of joints, traumatic injury, or obesity. This condition can affect any joint. However, it is usually found in the knees, hips, lower back, neck, small joints of the fingers, and the bases of the thumb and big toe.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. In normal joints, a firm, rubbery material called cartilage covers the end of each bone. Cartilage provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion and acts as a cushion between the bones. When affected by osteoarthritis, the cartilage is broken down and leads to pain and swelling in the joints. This causes trouble moving the joints. Over time, the cartilage can wear away, and bones rub together directly, causing further joint damage and pain.
Osteoarthritis was commonly thought to be caused exclusively by the wear and tear of joints. However, there are some other contributing factors to develop osteoporosis:
- Weight – Being overweight causes a greater amount of pressure onto the hips and the knees. Carrying extra weight around can cause the cartilage to break down at a much faster rate.
- Genes – Inherited traits can cause defects in the way bones fit together. This can make the cartilage wear away at a faster rate. Also, a defect in the body’s production of collagen,a protein that makes up cartilage, can cause osteoarthritis in someone as early as 20 years old.
- Overuse – Repetitive movements can cause osteoarthritis. Jobs that require heavy lifting or constant and repetitive bending and standing can lead to osteoarthritis.
- Injury – Repetitive injuries to joints – including but not limited to fractures, ligament tears, or surgeries – can lead to osteoarthritis. This is particularly common in athletes that repetitively damaged ligaments and joints, which speeds up the breakdown of cartilage. A traumatic injury to a joint will increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
- Age – Although osteoarthritis occurs in people of all ages, it is most common in people over the age of 65.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
- Soreness and aching in the joints that worsen with movement
- Joint pain after a large amount of inactivity, such as after sleeping or sitting
- Joint pain after extensive use and movement of a joint
- Limited range of motion and stiffness that goes away with movement
- Clicking, crackling, or grating sounds that happens when a joint bends/moves
- Swelling in the joints
Osteoarthritis may affect different joints in different ways. Here are some examples of how osteoarthritis presents in different areas of the body.
- Hips – If you experience pain in the groin and buttocks or experience pain on the inside of the thigh or knee, it could be an early symptom of osteoarthritis developing in your hips.
- Knees – With knee osteoarthritis, you may feel a scraping or grating sensation when moving the joint.
- Fingers – Spurs or bony growths found at the edge of the joints can cause fingers to swell and become tender.
- Feet – Tenderness and pain in the largest joint at the base of the big toe. This can cause swelling and tenderness in the toes and ankles.
How is Osteoarthritis diagnosed?
Osteoarthritis can be diagnosed in a few different ways.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) – This procedure is used to gain a better picture of the cartilage and damages to the structures. It can look at the joint and its surrounding tissues. This procedure does not use radiation.
- X-rays -The x-ray is used to show how much damage occurred in the specific joint. They are used to confirm the diagnosis.
- Joint Aspiration – In this procedure, fluid is drained from the joint in order for the doctor to examine it.
Osteoarthritis can be treated in a number of ways. Here are some ways to protect your joints.
If you are overweight, shedding some extra pounds can significantly reduce the amount of pressure on the knees and other joints, providing a much-needed relief. By choosing healthier food options and getting active, you will start to feel better and look better. Eating lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fats can provide your body with the nutrients it needs. Going for a short 20-minute walk a few times a week is a great start to an active lifestyle.
Physical therapy can reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness, which helps improve the joint function. It helps you to find a balance between keeping your joints active, not overusing them, and ensuring that they are strong and healthy.
Physical Therapists can help you nurse your joints back to health. They provide guidance on ways to protect and properly use your joints. From helping you with exercises to properly balance mobility to showing you flexibility exercises and more, they will be there through every step of the healing process.
Joint surgery or joint replacement can repair or replace the damaged joints with an artificial joint. This procedure should be considered only after medications, physical therapy, and other treatments if they have not provided relief.
Joint surgery can repair or replace severely damaged joints, especially hips or knees. A doctor will refer an eligible patient to an orthopedic surgeon to perform the procedure.
Stem Cell Treatment
At the Stem Cell Orthopedic Institute of Texas, we offer stem cell injections for those who are suffering from joint pain. Stem cell therapy is offered as an alternative to knee and joint surgery. Stem Cell injections alleviate knee osteoarthritis pain, improve your quality of life, increase knee cartilage growth, help repair ligament damage, and reduce recovery time significantly.