Everything You Need to Know About Osteoarthritis

Everything You Need to Know About Osteoarthritis

Approximately 32.5 million adults in the United States have osteoarthritis. Of the hundreds of types of arthritis that exist, osteoarthritis is the most common.

It describes when the soft tissue cartilage that cushions the ends of bones that meet at joints wears down with use, age, and injury. Any joint can experience osteoarthritis, but the team of Nic Gay, MD, Masi Reynolds, DO, and April Mancuso, MD, at Silicon Valley Orthopaedics most often see patients with it in the hips, knees, hands, and spine. 

Osteoarthritis causes pain, stiffness, and inflammation. There's no cure, but the symptoms can be managed, and the progression of the disease slowed. 

Here’s what we want you to know about osteoarthritis and how to manage living with the disease.

When to suspect osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis symptoms develop slowly and become worse over time. Make an appointment at our office if you experience any of these symptoms and they begin to interfere with daily activity or sleep.

Pain

You’ll notice your knee, hip, or back — whatever affected joint — hurts during or after movement. 

Stiffness

Joint stiffness is most apparent when you first wake up in the morning or have been sitting for an extended time. 

Joint tenderness

The joint may feel painful when you press gently on it or in its general area. 

Grating sensation

The joint may pop or crack. You may also feel it rub when used.

Loss of flexibility

You lose the range of motion in the joint. 

Bone spurs

You may feel hard lumps around the affected joint. These are extra bits of bone that develop from friction.

Swelling

The joint affected by osteoarthritis may swell due to inflammation. 

These symptoms may make it difficult for you to participate in daily activities, exercise like you once did, or sleep soundly. You may become depressed due to the pain and limitations.

Who gets osteoarthritis?

Certain risk factors increase the chance that you’ll develop osteoarthritis. Your chance of developing osteoarthritis develops with age, especially if you’re female. Carrying extra body weight also contributes to the stress on weight-bearing joints. Past injuries and repetitive stress make you vulnerable to the condition, too. 

For some people, genetics, bone deformities, or metabolic disease like diabetes play a role in the development of osteoarthritis.

How do you treat osteoarthritis

Mild and moderate cases of osteoarthritis respond well to over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories. We may also offer prescription doses of these medications,

Not everyone tolerates these medications, and some people experience side effects like stomach upset, bleeding problems, and kidney or liver damage. Talk to us about your concerns and dosages. 

Physical and occupational therapy help you learn to live with osteoarthritis. For your convenience, we provide physical therapy in-house. 

TENS therapy, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, helps some people with knee and hip osteoarthritis find short-term relief from symptoms. 

When conservative treatments fail to bring you relief, we may recommend injections of a corticosteroid into the affected joint. These injections don’t cure osteoarthritis, but they can reduce painful inflammation. 

Injections of hyaluronic acid relieve pain in the knee by offering additional cushioning. Surgery, including joint replacement, may be your best option when joint pain is unbearable and makes daily life difficult. 

What can I do at home to manage osteoarthritis?

While joint pain may make you want to stay still, it’s essential to stay active. Low-impact exercise, particularly water-based movement, can improve muscle strength around the joint and make you more stable. Yoga and tai chi are other good options for exercise. 

Weight loss is also important if you’re overweight. Losing weight takes pressure off the affected joints, like your knees, hips, and spine, to reduce pain. 

Hot and cold therapy are simple treatment options to try at home. Heat, especially moist heat, helps ease pain by relaxing muscles. Cold therapy improves muscle pain after exercise. 

Assistive devices, like a walker or cane, can help you manage before you resort to surgery.

Alternative treatments, like massage and acupuncture, help you ease symptoms associated with osteoarthritis. No single treatment works for everyone, so it’s best to experiment and find out what helps you. 

Our team at Silicon Valley Orthopaedics helps you manage as the disease progresses. We also offer advanced treatments, like injections and surgery, when you need them. Call today or use this website to schedule your visit.

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