How To Cope with Osteoarthritis

It can be frustrating when our bodies don’t work the way they used to, especially as joint health diminishes with age. Often referred to as wear and tear disease, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and affects millions of Americans.

This degenerative joint disease wears down the cartilage that cushions joints, causing bones to rub against each other. Over time, joints can become inflamed, which can be incredibly painful. While there is no “cure” for OA, there are treatments, medications and procedures that can help relieve symptoms.

How Do I Know If I Have Osteoarthritis?

If you feel pain in your hips, knees, shoulders, fingers, neck or lower back anytime you exercise or do a simple household chore, you could have OA. Perhaps your pain is noticeable, but it isn’t excruciating. OA typically develops slowly and worsens over time. Although your symptoms may be mild now, there is a chance they could become unbearable in the future.

Pay attention to your body if you begin to develop any of the following symptoms of osteoarthritis:

  • Stiffness (typically more noticeable in the mornings or after a period of inactivity)
  • Pain (joints may hurt during or after activity)
  • Swelling (usually caused by inflammation)
  • Tenderness (joints can sometimes feel tender to the touch)
  • Grating, cracking or popping of joints (often more noticeable during activity or upon standing up)
  • Loss of flexibility (changes in range of motion)
  • Bone spurs (hard lumps of extra bone that form over the affected joint)

Who Is at Risk of Developing Osteoarthritis?

While osteoarthritis is most common in older adults and women, it can also affect people who:

  • Have a sports injury
  • Have a physically demanding job
  • Struggle with obesity
  • Have metabolic diseases like diabetes
  • Suffer joint injuries or bone deformities
  • Have a family history of OA

What Physical and Emotional Consequences Result from OA?

It’s completely normal for someone who has OA to experience a wide range of emotions and feelings including anxiety, fear, anger and depression — especially after receiving the diagnosis. Some people with OA can also have trouble sleeping and socializing with loved ones.

If you are feeling tired or sad because of your recent OA diagnosis, you are not alone. Surround yourself with a support system, don’t be afraid to ask for help and talk to your doctor about treatment options.

Non-Invasive At-Home Remedies for Osteoarthritis

  • Hot and cold compresses can reduce pain and inflammation and loosen stiff joints
  • Losing weight can improve symptoms
  • Exercising (i.e., aquatics, cycling and walking) and stretching strengthens muscles and tissues surrounding the joints
  • Anti Inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
  • Dietary supplements (glucosamine, chondroitin, turmeric, etc) can reduce pain, swelling and inflammation
  • Wearing braces or splints supports joints and may slow the progression of damage
  • Lastly, fish oil is known to help with joint tenderness due to the anti-inflammatory benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids it contains

What If Non-Surgical Treatments Haven’t Worked for My Osteoarthritis?

If you’ve tried everything under the sun (topical pain relievers, physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, etc.) to treat your OA and they haven’t relieved your symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery. There are procedures available to OA patients that are known to improve mobility and relieve pain.

  1. Joint replacement surgery – This is the common solution for patients with damaged joints in the hips, knees, shoulders. A surgeon will replace the affected and damaged joints with artificial ones that are typically made of plastic, ceramic, or metal.
  2. Osteotomy – A procedure for patients who are too young for a joint replacement. A surgeon will cut bone to redistribute weight on a joint to make it more stable.
  3. Joint fusion (arthrodesis) – This is a procedure to relieve painful joints that are severely damaged by fusing two bones together and getting rid of the joint completely. While a fused joint offers zero flexibility, it’s more stable and usually resolves OA pain.

Schedule a Consultation with an Osteoarthritis Experts in Roseburg, Oregon

Our surgeons at Centennial Orthopedics and Podiatry are dedicated to helping you find relief from your osteoarthritis. We offer a number of treatment options for patients with OA, such as joint replacement and arthroscopic knee surgery.

To schedule your consultation, call 541-229-2663 or send us a message.