Let’s start with some eye-opening numbers surrounding arthritis — the Arthritis Foundation reports that more than 92 million adults in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis or symptoms of arthritis. While there are many different forms of arthritis, it’s fair to say that osteoarthritis leads the pack.
As musculoskeletal experts, our team here at Advanced Spine Care and Pain Management has seen the number of patients with arthritis steadily increase as our population ages, as growing older is one of the primary risks when it comes to osteoarthritis.
To give you a better idea about what we’re up against, we’re going to take a deeper dive into this degenerative form of arthritis.
The term “arthritis,” refers to more than 100 different diseases that cause pain and inflammation in your joints. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and occurs when the soft tissues in your joint begin to break down due to wear and tear.
More specifically, each of your joints contains cartilage, which is a slippery substance that covers and protects the bones in your joints. As you age and the wear and tear on your joints increases, this cartilage can begin to break down. As a result, you can experience pain and inflammation in your joints, which can be made worse if your bones develop bone spurs in order to protect themselves.
Where OA can strike
This form of degenerative arthritis can affect most any joint, but OA typically strikes those joints you use the most, including the ones in your:
Since OA tends to develop in your hardest-working joints and those that bear the most weight, your ability to move freely can be compromised. In fact, more than 43% of those with arthritis report activity limitations.
Risk factors for arthritis
While we’ve discussed the role that age can play in OA, there are other factors that can put you more at risk for this joint disease, including:
- Previous injury
- Gender (women are more likely to develop OA)
- Irregularities in your musculoskeletal structure
Of these risk factors, it's no coincidence that the rising prevalence in obesity in the US coincides with the increasing numbers of OA sufferers. Carrying extra weight places more pressure on your joints, causing them to potentially break down prematurely.
Your treatment options for osteoarthritis
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for OA and, worse, once your cartilage breaks down, it doesn’t rebuild itself readily since this tissue doesn’t enjoy adequate vascularization.
That said, we offer many treatment options that can slow the progression of the disease and remedy the pain, inflammation, and stiffness that are affecting your quality of life.
While it’s hard to say here what may work best for you, we typically recommend one or more of the following:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- Corticosteroid injections
- Hot and cold therapies
- Physical therapy and exercise
This last point is one that’s worth highlighting. Through physical therapy, you can strengthen the healthier tissues surrounding your joints, which can take the pressure off the joint and slow the progression of OA.
If you’re struggling with joint discomfort at the hands of OA, please contact one of our two offices in Hartsdale or Staten Island, New York. You can sit down with one of our specialists to discuss your options for restoring pain-free movement.