If you have pain and stiffness in your hands, wrists, neck, lower back, hips or knees that is slowing you down, it is possible that you are one of the 32 million adult Americans suffering from osteoarthritis. Described as a degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis occurs when a joint’s protective cartilage begins to break down. Over time and wear and tear, cartilage can be reduced, exposing bone-on-bone friction. This is the source of the joint pain, stiffness, weakness and swelling that you may be experiencing.
Most commonly found in adults, osteoarthritis can also affect children and teens. Cartilage is a firm, slippery tissue that allows joints to move smoothly and fluidly. When cartilage begins to break down, eventually bone is exposed. The bone, then, undergoes irreversible changes.
“It’s easy to see where the pain comes from,” said Quinby Orthopedics’ Medical Director, Dr. J. Scott Quinby. “But there are always things we can do to help.”
Causes of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joint. While it is not entirely understood what causes the disease, there are several risk factors that have been identified.
If you have a family history of osteoarthritis, you have a higher risk factor for contracting the disease. Women have a higher percentage of osteoarthritis than men do, though we don’t know why. Cases of osteoarthritis increase with age. Injury of a joint or repetitive overuse—such as from a sport—can also increase your chances of osteoarthritis. Obesity puts extra stress on the joints, increasing risk of osteoarthritis, as does muscle weakness. High glucose levels, as seen with diabetes, makes cartilage stiffer and prone to damage.
Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis
To diagnose osteoarthritis, your orthopaedic surgeon will do a complete examination including health history and sensitivity and range-of-motion tests. Imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, may be needed. Imaging tests can show bone density indicators as well as damage points. A blood test may eliminate other kinds of arthritis.
“If you are suffering from stiff, aching joints, we will work toward finding a way to help you live with less pain and more mobility,” said Dr. Quinby. “It starts with a careful diagnosis and then we will leverage all of the treatment possibilities to try to help you.”
Treatment of Osteoarthritis
While there is no cure for this degenerative disease, there are several minimally-invasive treatment options to explore. There are some pharmaceuticals that can provide relief, such as over-the-counter pain medication and anti-inflammatories. Corticosteroid joint injections are also anti-inflammatories, though the effects may be temporary. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections infuses the affected area with proteins that can help reduce pain and swelling.
Increasing your activity level and reducing excess weight can also help the joint pain improve. Strengthening exercises can help support the joint and reduce pain and mobility exercises can keep the joint flexible. Dr. Quinby may recommend several exercises that can help.
Finally, if minimally-invasive options aren’t adequate and your quality of life has been significantly impacted, there are surgical options that can reduce bone-on-bone contact. Additionally, there are options for total joint replacement.
Get an appointment with our orthopaedic specialist today!
If your osteoarthritis pain has caused you to slow down, to stop certain activities, and to change the way you live, we’re here to help. At Quinby Orthopedics, we want to see you enjoying life to its fullest. Call us @ 469-929-0615 for an initial exam to help find a path toward pain-free living.
Visit us at one of our two convenient locations:
- Rockwall – Rockwall Medical Center, 810 E. Ralph Hall Pkwy, Suite 140
- Plano – Plano Medical Office Building III, 4001 W 15th, Suite 180