Osteoarthritis (OA) causes the protective joint cartilage to break down, making the bones rub against each other. This causes pain, swelling, stiffness and difficulty moving the joint. Also called degenerative joint disease (wear and tear arthritis), the condition primarily affects the knees, though it can also affect the fingers, thumbs, spine and hips. The likelihood of developing OA symptoms increases in the 55-64 year range. Potential risk factors include aging, obesity, previous joint injury, overuse of the joint, weak muscles, and genetics. Leading multispecialty pain management centers in Brooklyn, NYC offer a variety of treatment options to help people better manage the pain and other symptoms associated with this disease.
Osteoarthritis is estimated to affect more than 30 million men and women in the United States (www.healthline.com). The signs and symptoms of this joint condition develop slowly and get worse over time. Common signs and symptoms include joint pain, joint stiffness and inflammation, bone spurs, reduced flexibility and movement in your joints, tenderness (discomfort when pressing on the area with your fingers), crackling sounds or sensations in your joints, and bony enlargements in the middle and end joints of the fingers.
Options to Manage OA Symptoms
Joint pain is the primary symptom of degenerative joint disease. If your pain lasts formore than two weeks, you should consult a pain management physician. Your physician will conduct a comprehensive physical examination and closely examine the affected joint for tenderness, redness or swelling. Diagnostic imaging tests such as x-ray, MRI scan and lab tests like blood tests or joint fluid analysis may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.
At reliable multispecialty healthcare centers in Brooklyn, NYC, pain management doctors work with physical therapists, chiropractors, orthopedic physicians and rehabilitation specialists to assess patients and develop customized treatment plans. Various non-invasive treatment modalities are used to help patients manage pain and treat joint stiffness and inflammation.
- Physical therapy – Physical therapy includes therapeutic exercises such as stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercises that can help improve joint flexibility and reduce pain.
- Chiropractic care – Chiropractic treatment involves using the hands or a special device to apply a gentle force to correct misalignments and relieve pressure on the nerves and tissue structures.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin (Ecotrin), ibuprofen (Motrin), nabumetone (Relafen), and naproxen (Naprosyn) will be recommended to address pain and inflammation in the joints.
- Injection therapies – Injections of corticosteroid medications and viscosupplements can relieve knee pain.
- TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)– TENS involves applying low-voltage electrical current to reduce joint stiffness and pain.
- Joint injections – Monovisc and orthovisc injections are ideal options for alleviating pain caused by osteoarthritis. These injections help restore the natural joint fluid that cushions, lubricates and protects the joints. Administered as a single injection, Monovisc helps the synovial fluid to better protect and lubricate the knee. Orthovisc on the other hand, is injected through 3 to 4 intra-articular injections (administered one week apart) and helps in restoring the hyraluronan in the knee joint. Check out the infographic to learn about joint injection treatments.
In most cases, degradation of cartilage is part of the natural aging process. While these modalities can help relieve OA symptoms, they cannot stop or slow joint degeneration. However, you may be able to minimize your potential risk of developing OA with certain lifestyle changes. These include avoiding overuse of joints, keeping obesity at bay, and maintaining good posture.