Osteoarthritis: the most common form of arthritis
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and affects millions of people around the world. The pain that is often associated with osteoarthritis comes from worn out tissues between various joints. When the cartilage is worn, it causes friction and the bones cannot move fluidly without causing pain. There are several different stages to osteoarthritis. Some people may not progress through all of the stages while others will. Lifestyle changes and early intervention is key to treating and keeping the side effects of osteoarthritis under control.
Stages of Osteoarthritis
There are four main stages of osteoarthritis. Some people may experience all four stages and others may never progress past stage one.
Stage 1: Minor
This stage of osteoarthritis is very minor. This stage occurs when there is minor wear and tear on the joints, but the patient is not affected with pain nor do they have any changes to their daily activities.
Stage 2: Mild
During stage two, patients start noticing stiffness and discomfort. If a provider orders and X-ray, they will be able to see bone spurs.
Stage 3: Moderate
The area between the joining and the bone is eroded and the cartilage is very thin. Patients often start having inflammatory side effects with stage three. Patients will start noticing they are changing their daily activities to accommodate the joint pain.
Stage 4: Severe
The final, most severe and most painful stage of osteoarthritis is stage four. During stage four, the cartilage is almost if not already completely eroded. This causes the joint and bone to have friction causing severe pain.
Where can this pain be located?
Those who suffer from osteoarthritis tend to have the majority of the pain in areas where movement is predominant. Joints such as fingers, hands, lower back, knees, neck, and hips are the most common areas patients have discomfort.
- Low back
What does Arthritis feel like?
Osteoarthritis usually causes the following symptoms:
- Pain during movement
- Joint Stiffness
- Bone Spurs
- Loss in flexibility
- Crackling in joints
- Bone spurs
What puts me at risk for Osteoarthritis?
While there are many risk factors for osteoarthritis, the most common are:
- Bone deformities
- Older age
- Sex: women are at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis
- Injuries to joints
- Repetitive stress on joints
When patients are experiencing joint issues, our providers can run different tests to determine a proper diagnosis and create an individualized treatment plan. Patients can expect imaging like an x-ray or MRI to give their provider a visual of what is going on with the cartilage and joint area. Providers may also choose to run blood tests and perform a joint fluid analysis. The blood test can rule out other causes of joint pain. A joint fluid analysis is a non-invasive procedure where a needle is inserted to draw fluid from the joint. The fluid can then be tested for further evaluation.
Osteoarthritis cannot be cured, however early detection is key in treatment. Earl detection can also prolong the stages and even keep patients from progressing through all four stages. For those eligible for treatment, options may include:
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Lubrication Injections
- Steroid Injections
- Joint replacement (last resort)
What is the outlook for Osteoarthritis?
Although osteoarthritis cannot be completely cured, the highly trained staff at HPM will evaluate and develop a treatment plan that will help you find relief and improve your quality of life. If you think you may be suffering from Osteoarthritis, call our nurse hotline. A trained nurse will be able to get you scheduled with one of our providers located closest to you.