Dr. Zargar explains: Osteoarthritis, also known as Degenerative Joint Disease, is the most common type of arthritis in the United States and the country's leading cause of disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis and the number is expected to grow.
Osteoarthritis can occur at any age due to genetics, body weight, or sports and work injuries, but is more common in older adults. It is a result of a breakdown in cartilage in the joint, which normally acts as a cushion and allows for smooth joint movement. Osteoarthritis is a common and painful ailment, but treatment options are available to improve quality of life.
Most patients who have osteoarthritis report pain in one or more joints. The hips, knees, spine, and hands are the most common locations for arthritis, but it can develop in any joint.
Osteoarthritis may begin slowly and cause only minor pain and inconvenience initially, but progress over time. Commonly, patients experience stiffness and joint aches for about 30 minutes after waking, or following a period of inactivity. Some patients feel a crunching or grinding sensation when moving the joint. In certain cases, bone spurs can grow on or near the joint, resulting in little lumps below the skin. Sometimes there will be swelling near or around the joint, which should be investigated and treated by a doctor. Seeking a diagnosis as early as possible when these symptoms arise is crucial, as early treatment reduces disability and improves quality of life.
As there are many types of arthritis, as well as illnesses with symptoms similar to osteoarthritis, it is important for patients to talk to their doctor for a professional diagnosis and to rule out other, potentially serious conditions. Any time a patient encounters new or persistent joint pain, it is always best to be safe and consult a physiatrist for a check-up. Doctors United has several board certified physiatrists that are willing and able to answer all your questions.
In addition to a physical exam of the area or joints in pain, some of the tests a doctor may order include:
There are many treatment options available for osteoarthritis. While surgeries are sometimes necessary in severe cases to improve a patient's life and ability to function, operations are not the first line of defense for arthritis. Many conservative, non-surgical options are also effective. Physical therapy, chiropractic, lifestyle changes, diet and exercise, anti-inflammatory medications, injections, or a combination of treatments are effective for osteoarthritis.
If you have further questions about your joint pain or about arthritis, please contact Doctors United at any one of our five convenient locations.
Give us a try.
We'd like to help.
Mohsen Zargar, Operator