Impacting millions of patients from around the world, osteoarthritis is by far the most common form of arthritis. So, what is osteoarthritis (often shortened to OA)? We have a layer of protective cartilage situated at the ends of our bones, cushioning them from the impact of our everyday activities. When these cushions wear down, osteoarthritis arises.
Once the cartilage is completely gone, bones are forced to rub against each other, causing intense pain and stiffness during normal activities. This disease is often called a “wear and tear” disease.
- Joint pain during movement
- Stiffness in the morning or following long periods of inactivity
- A loss of flexibility in the joints
- Popping, crackling, or grating sensation in the joints
- Bone spurs near the affected joint
To diagnose osteoarthritis, your doctor will begin with a physical exam, during which they will check the impacted joint for any tenderness, redness, or swelling. Your flexibility will also be tested. Additionally, your doctor may order an X-ray, MRI, blood test, or joint fluid analysis to confirm an osteoarthritis diagnosis.
As mentioned, millions of patients around the globe suffer from osteoarthritis. Common risk factors of osteoarthritis include increased age, being designated female at birth, obesity, previous joint injuries, family history of osteoarthritis, and more.
Sadly, there is no way to cure or reverse osteoarthritis once it has begun. However, there are various treatment methods of that can help you maintain a normal lifestyle full of all the daily activities you enjoy. The goal of your treatment plan will be to reduce your pain levels, increase your mobility and function in the joints, and improve your quality of life overall.
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol, Advil, and Aleve have been shown to relief pain associated with osteoarthritis. Physical therapy can also be helpful, encouraging patients to increase their flexibility and strengthen the muscles that surround the joint.
If traditional medications are not bringing improvements, your doctor may recommend cortisone or lubrication injections. These injections can bring relief for a few weeks at a time, but they are often not recommended for prolonged or frequent use.
There are also ways that you can work to reduce your osteoarthritis pain at home. Your doctor may recommend gentle exercises such as yoga or tai chi. You can use heating pads to reduce pain and swelling, invest in shoe inserts to take pressure away from your joints, or utilize assistive devices like a cane or walker.
Typically, osteoarthritis surgery is considered a last resort. Your doctor will work through a number of non-surgical treatment options before suggesting surgical intervention. If your doctor does recommend surgery, they will be there to explain the process and address any questions or concerns you may have before deciding to undergo osteoarthritis surgery.
Osteotomies are quite common in osteoarthritis treatment, particularly when it develops in the knee. In this procedure, a surgery will cut the bone above or below the knee before removing or placing a new wedge of bone. This procedure helps redistribute your body weight toward the lesser-worn section of the knee.
Another option is joint replacement surgery. During this procedure, the impacted joint surfaces will be removed and replaced with an alternative, typically made from plastic or metal.
Why Choose Comprehensive Orthopaedic Global?
Osteoarthritis is an impactful condition that affects countless patients every year. We have amassed an excellent team of osteoarthritis specialists who have undergone additional training specific to the diagnosis and treatment of osteoarthritis. Your doctor will work with you to understand your unique symptoms and concerns before coming up with a personalized treatment plan to reduce your pain.
As a part of your treatment, you may also be referred to our physical therapists at COG Restore. Our team will work with you and with your doctor to create a rehabilitation program allowing you to strengthen your joints, improve your flexibility, and return to a typical routine with minimal or no pain.
To speak with an osteoarthritis specialist on our team here at Comprehensive Orthopaedic Global in St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, or the Virgin Islands, please request an appointment using our online portal or contact us via phone at (340) 779-2663.