Osteoarthritis: The Symptoms and Treatments


What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of joint disease affecting over 30 million people in the United States. As the population ages, osteoarthritis is becoming more prevalent. It is a degenerative process due to the biomechanical breakdown of articular (hyaline) cartilage also affecting the adjacent (subchondral) bone and the synovium.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms are deep achy joint pain made worse by increasing activity and stiffness after immobility. Often, you develop a reduced range of motion and experience crepitus (crunching sensation). An MRI is usually not needed, and plain radiographs assist in the clinical diagnosis.

What are the Treatments?

Therapeutic interventions include patient education on joint protection, ice/heat, specific exercises, physical or occupational therapy, pool therapy, ambulatory assistive devices, and bracing to unload the joint.  Even a small weight loss of 11 lbs. can significantly reduce knee pain.  Topical analgesics and anti-inflammatories may reduce pain in smaller joints, like hands, wrist, foot and ankles, elbows and localized knee or shoulder pain.  Oral medications can be effective for short periods, but long-term management with anti-inflammatories carry a higher risk than benefit. Opioid analgesics can be used in certain circumstances. Organic cannabis, CBD oil can be helpful in some individuals. Intraarticular steroid injections and viscosupplementation with hyaluronic acid are the most common injectables.

Viscosupplementation is the replacement of the knee’s natural lubricant and shock absorber known as synovial fluid. It is an effective pain treatment FDA approved in 1997 for patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis. The procedure is best performed using ultrasound guidance for accurate needle placement and targeted therapeutic interventions.  Medicare-approved every six months as needed.  

Our synovial joints naturally make hyaluronate to protect cartilage through lubrication, shock absorption, and provide nutrients to the cartilage.  Hyaluronate in the synovial fluid acts as a barrier to the inflammatory molecules and help prevent tissue destruction.  

Newer treatments include regenerative or biologic medicine where platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is injected into affected joints for accelerated healing.  

Ready to Begin your Healing Journey?

Call us today for a consultation and an individualized treatment plan.

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