Osteoarthritis: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment Options

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 32.5 million U.S. adults are affected by a condition known as osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, often referred to as degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage at the end of your joints breaks down, causing the bones within the joint to run together and lead to pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced function. Although this condition can damage any joint, it most frequently affects joints in your hand, spine, hips, knees, and toes. 

Given that the lifetime risk of developing osteoarthritis in your knee is about 46 percent, it’s worth learning more about how osteoarthritis is caused, affects the body, and is treated by a pain management doctor in Orlando like Neil Patel, M.D. If, by the end of this article, you have further questions regarding osteoarthritis or are seeking treatment for your condition, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (407) 478-0007 or fill out our contact form.

Causes and Risk Factors

Essentially, osteoarthritis is caused by a breakdown in the cartilage that typically cushions the joints, leading to friction, inflammation, pain, and other symptoms. The most common cause is normal wear and tear as using your joints over the years damages the cartilage, leading to water build-up and a breakdown of its proteins. Age is one of the most common if not the most common risk factor, with the majority of OA cases occurring in patients age 40 and above. However, the likelihood of you getting osteoarthritis can be exacerbated by a number of other risk factors as well, including past injury like torn cartilage, ligament damage, and dislocated joints. Other risk factors are as follows:

  • Gender: Women are much more likely to develop OA than the opposite sex, particularly after age 55. 
  • Genetics: OA tends to run in the family, particularly if you have genetic joint defects. People who have one type of osteoarthritis are also more likely to develop another type of osteoarthritis. 
  • Occupation: People who regularly perform certain activities in their job, such as kneeling, squatting, or climbing stairs, are more likely to develop joint pain, stiffness, and occupation-related OA.
  • Obesity: Excessive body weight places additional stress on the joints in your knees, hips, and back and may lead to an increased risk of osteoarthritis as well.

Symptoms and Treatment

Osteoarthritis symptoms develop gradually and worsen over time and may include any of the following: 

  • Pain or aching in the affected joints during or after activity
  • Joint stiffness first thing in the morning and after a period of inactivity
  • Limited range of motion or loss of flexibility
  • Grating sensation and a cracking or popping sound when you bend an affected joint
  • Tenderness in the joint
  • Extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, that form around the joint
  • Swelling
  • Joint instability

If you experience any of these symptoms, a physician will first diagnose your condition with the use of X-rays, MRIs, blood tests, or joint fluid analysis. Then, one of the pain management doctors near me like Dr. Patel can provide you with a variety of treatment options, depending on the severity of your symptoms and the location of the affected joint. The most common treatment method is a mixture of physical measures (exercise), drug therapy (joint injections), and sometimes, surgery. A pain management physician, who often seeks to avoid surgery and other invasive treatment options, will most likely first attempt to reduce your pain through procedures, such as facet joint injections that involve the injection of cortisone into the affected joint for pain relief. The goal is always to restore the greatest range of motion without putting you through unnecessary or dangerous procedures.

To schedule an appointment with one of the pain management doctors near me, please call (407) 478-0007 or fill out our contact form today.

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