What Is Osteoarthritis and Is It Treatable?

If you have osteoarthritis, you’re not alone. More than 30 million adults in the United States suffer from this chronic condition. Although there’s no miracle cure for osteoarthritis, sufferers do have options to slow the progression of the condition and improve their pain, mobility and quality of life.

What Is Osteoarthritis and How Does It Develop?

Osteoarthritis is a type of joint disorder that is caused by the breakdown of cartilage and its underlying bone. It is one of the most common types of arthritis and can result in stiffness, pain and swelling in one or more joints. The cause of osteoarthritis is still unknown; however, it has been linked to aging, joint stress from overuse and injuries.

Over time, osteoarthritis will cause the bones to rub against each other, causing painful inflammation. Osteoarthritis can affect people of all ages but is more common amongst those older than 65. As you get older you have an increased risk of osteoarthritis due to years of wear and tear on your joints.

While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, treatments such as physical therapy and medication can help reduce symptoms and prevent further damage to the affected joints.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of joint degeneration, characterized by stiffness in joints, pain when moving and difficulty doing regular activities. It can affect any joint but is most commonly found in knees, hips, hands and the spine.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Loss of flexibility and range of motion in the affected area
  • Swelling in the joint due to inflammation
  • Bony prominences around the joint
  • Grinding noises (crepitus) when the joint moves
  • Decreased ability to do daily activities due to severe pain or stiffness

It is important for anyone experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis to speak with their doctor about getting an accurate diagnosis and developing an appropriate treatment plan.

Diagnosing Osteoarthritis

Diagnosing osteoarthritis can involve a variety of tests. Diagnostic imaging such as x-rays and magnetic resonance images (MRI) may be necessary to accurately assess the extent and severity of the damage caused by this common joint condition.

Your physician may also conduct physical examinations to confirm their initial diagnosis or determine if any further testing is needed. The medical history of the patient will often be taken into consideration as well. Other conditions may need to be ruled out before making a final determination.

While there is no single test capable of definitively diagnosing osteoarthritis, the combination of all available information helps healthcare professionals make an informed decision about treatment.

Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis can be a painful and difficult disease to manage. Thankfully, many treatment options are available to help alleviate its symptoms.

Generally speaking, osteoarthritis treatment is focused on reducing pain and inflammation while increasing joint function. This can be accomplished through lifestyle changes, such as regular physical exercise and healthy eating habits, or through medication like acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Additional osteoarthritis treatments include corticosteroid injections or viscosupplementation (injecting a lubricant into joints to improve function and reduce pain). Depending on severity of osteoarthritis, more invasive treatments may be required, including surgery to replace severely damaged joints.

Because each patient’s situation is unique, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best osteoarthritis treatment plan for any individual scenario.

Living With Osteoarthritis

Living with osteoarthritis can be a challenge for some, and the effects of this condition may range in severity. It is important to understand osteoarthritis, the effective options for managing its symptoms and your own capabilities. Some sufferers may be better able to participate actively in physical therapy while others may require less intensive management strategies.

While osteoarthritis cannot be reversed, there are many ways to reduce and manage its symptoms, such as participating in low-impact physical activities like swimming and bicycling that don’t place too much pressure on joints, using adaptive devices to improve the ease of performing everyday tasks, stretching exercises, investing in supportive furniture (such as recliners) and taking medications prescribed by your doctor.

With the right combination of lifestyle changes and treatments, managing osteoarthritis can lead to improved joint health and an overall better quality of life.

Osteoarthritis Treatment in Oregon

Osteoarthritis is a common degenerative joint disease that can cause pain and stiffness. It develops when the cartilage between joints breaks down, causing the bones to rub together. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, swelling and a limited range of motion. Treatment options for osteoarthritis include over-the-counter medication, lifestyle changes and surgery. If you are living with osteoarthritis, it is important to stay active and maintain a healthy weight.

Contact the team at Centennial Orthopedics and Podiatry by calling 541.229.2663 if you have any questions or concerns about osteoarthritis.