What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis or wear-and-tear arthritis, is caused by overuse, repetitive movements, trauma, and/or general wear-and-tear on your joints. Symptoms occur when the cartilage in your joints that normally protects the ends of your bones breaks down or is worn away.
OA typically shows up in a single joint, often in the shoulder, hip, or knee, though it can occur in any joints that are used frequently in your work or daily life.
What are the symptoms?
OA causes generalized joint symptoms that can be confused with other types of arthritis. That’s why it’s best to see Restore Osteo of Colorado for a full exam to determine your exact diagnosis and treatments.
Common symptoms of OA include:
- Joint pain or tenderness
- Mild joint swelling
- Stiffness or decreased range of motion
- Symptoms that improve with movement
- Clicking or cracking sounds when the joint bends
- Pain that’s worse after movement or at the end of the day
It can take many years for OA to develop, so if you’re just starting to experience joint pain that doesn’t go away after 2-3 days, it’s time for an exam to determine the cause of your pain and the next steps you can take to prevent joint damage.
What are the possible complications of osteoarthritis?
If OA is left untreated, it can eventually lead to a total breakdown of the cartilage in the affected joint, meaning that your joint becomes bone-on-bone. In these cases, the symptoms become much worse, and surgery could be needed to relieve your discomfort and improve your joint function.
OA can also lead to a breakdown of bone near your joints that’s associated with osteoporosis. With osteoporosis, your bone becomes thinner and more fragile. This can make you vulnerable to fractures. If you have both OA and osteoporosis, your risk of fractures near your joints increases.
How is osteoarthritis diagnosed and treated?
Diagnosis of OA involves a consultation, physical exam, and X-rays. If your provider suspects you also have osteoporosis, they may order a bone densitometry test or a specialized X-ray called a DEXA scan to determine the density of your bones.
Treatment often involves lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or wearing a brace over the involved joint while you’re working or exercising, as well as medications to relieve pain and inflammation. Some medications can also help prevent the breakdown of cartilage, which can help preserve your joints.
In some cases, your Restore Osteo of Colorado provider might recommend PRP treatments to help stimulate healing in the affected area.
To discuss osteoarthritis treatments, call Restore Osteo of Colorado or book a visit online today.