Typically, individuals over the age of sixty eventually experience some form of arthritic discomfort. Often hailed to as the prom queen of degenerative joint disorders, Osteoarthritis (OA) seeps its way into the bones of over 20 million Americans each year. This predisposed disease is characterized by the deterioration of bone cartilage in addition to an increase in bone density.
As bone density begins to increase, the cartilage surrounding a bone simultaneously begins to deteriorate. Observed in many other degenerative joint diseases–as the cartilage begins to deteriorate, bones begin grinding on one another and patients begin to experience severe pain along with increasing stiffness and minor inflammation. Cases of osteoarthritis are typically seen in the hips, knees, spines, and sometimes shoulders of older adult populations.
The most typical symptoms are: Joint pain, aching, stiffness, and limited mobility. If left untreated, the symptoms worsen and the pain becomes apparent, causing the aggravation to spread to areas of the hip, groin, patellar region, and inner thigh. These symptoms can make it difficult to resume daily activities and, in developed cases, can significantly affect an individual’s quality of life. If a patient assumes that they are experiencing symptoms related to Osteoarthritis they should schedule a visit with their orthopedic specialist as these symptoms can worsen. Due to the nature of this degenerative disease and its progression with time–early detection and treatment of its ailments are critical for future patient rehabilitation.
The diagnosis procedure usually begins with a physical examination followed by X-rays and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) screening. This allows the doctor to assess the severity, magnitude, and regions where Osteoarthritis exists. Once the examinations are completed, your orthopedic specialist can diagnose the severity of the disease and formulate a regimen of treatment options that will successfully alleviate your condition. While no cure exists for OA and the methods of treatment are frequently debated, patients do actually have a wide variety of options to choose from. Courses of therapy range from moderate non-operative therapeutic treatments to surgical interventions. These options include:
- Lifestyle Adjustments: While most cases of Osteoarthritis are significantly influenced by predisposed conditions, daily wear and tear can have a particularly important role in the progression and extremity of the disease. By minimizing strenuous activities and movements that aggravate your symptoms (i.e. stair climbing), the advancement of the disease can be both delayed and managed appropriately. In certain cases of knee and hip osteoarthritis, weight management and light physical activity can also help with OA symptoms.
- Physical Therapy: Working with a physical therapist can significantly improve the mobility of OA patients. Specific exercises and individualized programs can help strengthen auxiliary musculoskeletal structures that aid in mobility and range of motion.
- Assisted walking tools: Equipment, such as a cane or walking stroller, can aid in more advanced cases of OA where mobility has been jeopardized.
- Medication: Typically the most effective route of treatment includes a drug therapy component paired with lifestyle alterations. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen, along with pain-relievers such as acetaminophen can significantly reduce OA symptoms and alleviate patients of pain.
- Injections: This may include steroid, hyaluronic acid injections, PRP therapy or stem cell injections.
While osteoarthritis can be effectively managed using many of the mentioned approaches above, your doctor may recommend surgical intervention when the threat of permanent disability exists. While typically surgical interventions are a last-resort option, procedures include:
- Osteotomy: In this procedure either the head of the upper leg bone (femur) or the hip socket is cut and rearranged so that the hip is alleviated from intra-socket pressure
- Hip Resurfacing: This procedure is characterized by the placement of a metal or plastic implant over the afflicted joint area. In the hip, both the femur and hip socket are fitted with the implant. This cap acts as a lubricating surface between the joint and allows for natural movement and pain-free mobility. In addition, joint-resurfacing preserves a significant portion of the bone so that, if needed, replacement procedures in the future can be conducted without complications.
- Total Hip Replacement: In this procedure both the worn out head of the upper leg bone (femur) and the hip socket are completely removed and replaced by an artificial device.
As with most surgical procedures, the patients’ treatment options are dependent on your orthopedic specialist and what they deem to be best fit. Once a patient undergoes one of these forms of treatment, the recovery period is dependent upon the operation performed. Many Colorado pain doctors may recommend physical therapy to aid in the healing process, but that is dependent upon the premise of each individual’s circumstances.
Colorado Clinic offers arthritis treatments to help patients avoid surgery and obtain relief at several pain clinics including Loveland, Greeley and Boulder CO. Most insurance is accepted. Call today!