Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis Specialists Texas

If you always find that your hands ache after cooking, your knees crack when you stand up after long periods of time, or your hips hurt after going for a short walk, you might be living with osteoarthritis. The feelings of pain that you are experiencing are happening as a result of the breakdown of cartilage around our bones that happens over time and with use, which causes the bones to rub together. There is a good chance that most people will experience some form or osteoarthritis in their lifetime, but if steps are taken early on to manage the condition, there is a good chance chronic pain can be avoided. Connect with Osteoarthritis Specialists in Texas at the Texas Pain Care team in the Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Houston areas, dedicated to helping you achieve an active lifestyle with pain-free mobility and flexibility.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, which is a condition that affects the joints in the body. It is also known as degenerative joint disease or OA. It can be characterized as a loss of the joints as well as the formation of bone spurs in joint spaces. It happens as a result of the cartilage wearing down over time and with use, which causes the bones to rub against each other when the affected joints are used.  

The reason why osteoarthritis can be so painful is that it can affect any and every joint in the body. Cartilage is located at the end of each and every bone in the body, which is a soft, compressible tissue that prevents the bones from touching each other, as well as helping the joints to move smoothly and painlessly. It also acts as a shock absorber. 

The cartilage can break down for a few reasons, the main being wear and tear over time, injury, or medical condition. On top of experiencing pain from the breakdown, those who suffer from osteoarthritis can also experience pain from the bones rubbing against each other when the affected joint is moved. In addition to inflammation and pain, this could lead to a loss of flexibility and mobility, as well as the possibility of facing additional conditions as a result, including bursitis. 

While osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, the most common are those located in the hands, knees, hips and spine (neck and lower back, most often). 

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is caused by a combination of factors. Age is the most common one, as it occurs in those who are at least 70 years old, but also genetics, traumatic injuries like car accidents, sports injuries and other present health conditions where osteoporosis is a result. 

While anyone is at risk for developing osteoarthritis (especially older adults and those in postmenopause), the most common risk factors include: 

What Does Osteoarthritis Feel Like?

While the symptoms of osteoarthritis vary from person to person, the most common symptoms include: 

It’s important to take note of your specific symptoms and share them with your medical health provider because treatment methods can vary depending on the pain symptoms, frequency and duration. Most often in the beginning stages, pain is felt just while moving or using the affected joint, but as the condition progresses, the pain can be felt throughout use, rest, day and night.

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How is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?

The best way to get an osteoarthritis diagnosis is to make an appointment with a skilled pain management specialist who is trained in osteoarthritis. In addition to performing a complete physical exam and reviewing your medical and family history, they will use imaging tests (X-rays, MRI, and/or CT scan) to determine the extent of any joint degeneration. This includes checking for any possible bone spurs, amount of cartilage loss, and narrowing of joint spaces. 

The provider will also make note of any joint tenderness, lack of flexibility or mobility, deformity or joint enlargement, cracking sounds when the joint is used, or swelling. They might also opt for blood tests to rule out the possibility of other health conditions that could be leading to pain. 

How is Osteoarthritis Treated?

While there is no cure for osteoarthritis and cartilage doesn’t regrow, there are a variety of treatment options that can help to relieve and control the symptoms, as well as reduce the loss of mobility and flexibility. The most common treatment options, which range from at-home improvements to surgical options, include: 

Exercise: moving the affected joint actually helps to keep joints lubricated, maintain or improve range of motion, as well as slow the progression of symptoms.

Rest: in acute phases of osteoarthritis, brief periods of rest can help to relieve pain, but it’s not advised to rest for too long or in the chronic phases of the condition.

Maintaining a health weight: maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) helps to relieve extra stress and pressure on the joints.

Physical therapy: partnering with a trained physical therapist who recommends a personalized program can allow for an improvement in joint mobility and range of motion.

Medications: over-the-counter NSAIDs and prescription pain relievers can help to reduce pain and inflammation.

Joint injections: steroid and hyaluronic acid joint injections can provide short-term pain relief by reducing inflammation and related pain, allowing for patients to more comfortably take advantage of physical therapy and exercise.

Surgery: if conservative methods have failed to provide the intended amount of long-term relief, surgical methods such as joint replacement, arthroscopy, or an osteotomy could prove helpful. Surgery does present itself with risks and complications, so it’s important to discuss whether this treatment method is the best option.

If you would like more information about osteoarthritis and would like to speak with a trained pain management specialist about available treatment options, please schedule an appointment with the Texas Pain Care team in the Sugar Land, Missouri City and Houston areas today. 

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