Osteoarthritis (OA) is a very common disease that affects our joints. It is a leading cause of disability in America.
In OA, cartilage between our joints becomes damaged and over time thins out significantly. When this happens the bones in the joint touch each other, causing pain and inflammation.
Some people are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than others. Those at risk include individuals who:
- Have previous trauma to a joint
- Have a family history of OA
- Are female
- Overuse joints
- Are advancing in age
- Are obese
OA can affect any joint in the body; however, it mostly affects the knee and hands. Pain associated with OA is slow in onset and gets worse with time. The pain is often described as a deep ache that worsens with moving and improves with rest. Individuals may also experience swelling and/or stiffness of the joints.
Damage to the joints is irreversible. Therefore, the goal of treating OA is to control the pain, keep the disease from getting worse and preserving function. Your doctor may suggest the following treatments:
- Pain control with acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- RICE therapy which stands for (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Resting has shown to help improve pain. Especially if the osteoarthritis is from overuse from a job or recreational activity.
- Maintaining function through targeted exercises
- Maintaining a healthy weight which will help lessen stress on the joints and improve pain and function
- Physical therapy
- Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin
- Patient education (The goal is to empower patients to self-manage this condition)
When the disease progresses and becomes severe, steroid injections in the affected joint can help with inflammation. Surgical options are also available to patients in very severe cases.
If you are experiencing symptoms of OA, please speak with your doctor so that he or she can come up with a plan to help you better manage this condition.
To speak with a Family Medicine doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-657-7093.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.