Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder in the United States. Some people refer to osteoarthritis as “wear and tear” arthritis while others call it “degenerative joint disease.” Osteoarthritis most often occurs in the knees, hips, and hands.
When a person has osteoarthritis, the cartilage in their joints starts to break down. The underlying bone then starts to change. These changes tend to develop slowly and they get worse as time goes on.
Osteoarthritis can cause swelling, stiffness, and pain.
By understanding how osteoarthritis treatment and diagnosis work, you can be better prepared if you’re diagnosed. So continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know!
While undergoing a physical exam, your doctor will check the affected joints for flexibility, redness, swelling, and tenderness. They will then likely conduct imaging tests.
In order to get pictures of the affected joints, your doctor might recommend that you get X-rays. While cartilage won’t show up on an X-ray image, the loss of cartilage will be noticeable. That’s because the space between the bones in your joints will be narrower.
X-rays can also reveal bone spurs around the joints.
You also might be asked to undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses radio waves in order to create detailed images of soft tissues and bones. This includes cartilage.
While an MRI isn’t usually used to diagnose osteoarthritis, it can still help to give more information when it’s a complex case.
Lab tests on your joint fluid and blood can also be done to confirm your diagnosis. While there aren’t any blood tests designed specifically for osteoarthritis, there are some tests that can help to rule out other causes of joint pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is one example.
You might also be given joint fluid analysis. In this instance, your doctor will use a needle to draw fluid from the affected joints.
The fluid will then best tested for inflammation. It will also be used to figure out if your pain is caused by an infection or gout instead of osteoarthritis.
While osteoarthritis can’t be cured, there are treatments that can help to reduce pain and allow you to move better. Let’s look at the different types of treatment below.
There are several different kinds of medications that can help to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help some people who suffer from osteoarthritis who have mild to moderate pain.
There are also nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are taken at recommended doses and can relieve pain that’s caused by osteoarthritis. For those who are worried about side effects, they can take NSAIDs in topical gel form.
Physical therapy will utilize different exercise routines to help strengthen the muscles around your joints. It can also reduce pain and increase your flexibility. Doing regular gentle exercises on your own, such as walking or swimming, can also be beneficial.
You can also go to occupational therapy. This can help you figure out ways to do daily tasks without putting extra stress onto your joints.
For example, you can use a toothbrush with a bigger grip in order to make it easier for you to brush your teeth. You can also place a bench in your shower in order to relieve the pain of standing.
Stem Cell Therapy
When you get stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis, you can help avoid joint replacements. Stems cells have the ability to become different kinds of tissue, and they can also turn into cartilage cells. This means that they can help to relieve you of inflammation and joint pain.
You may be able to relieve joint pain by getting injections of corticosteroid medications. During this procedure, the doctor will numb the area around your joint. They will then place the needle into the space within your joint and inject the cortisone.
The number of injections that you can get each year is usually limited to around three or four. This is because the medication can end up weakening your joints over time.
You may be able to relieve pain by injecting hyaluronic acid. This can offer some cushioning in the knee.
If one side of your knee is more damaged than the other due to osteoarthritis, then you may want to undergo osteotomy. When you get a knee osteotomy, a surgeon will cut across your bone either below or above your knee. They will then add or remove a wedge of bone.
Your body weight will then be shifted away from the part of the knee that has worn out.
When you undergo joint replacement surgery, also known as arthroplasty, your surgeon will remove the damaged joint surfaces. They’ll then put metal and plastic parts in their place.
Artificial joints can also wear out over time and may need to eventually be replaced.
The Importance of Knowing About Osteoarthritis Treatment and Diagnosis
Osteoarthritis is a painful disorder that can cause a lot of discomfort. However, by knowing about the different kinds of osteoarthritis treatment available to you, you can make more confident and educated decisions about your health.
Also, by knowing how diagnosis works, you can hopefully get diagnosed sooner and thus get started on your treatment sooner as well.
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