Osteoarthritis has quickly become the most common type of arthritis to be diagnosed. In fact physicians are now estimating that 50% of people will experience some form of osteoarthritis during their lifetime.
Osteoarthritis (OA) occurs in the joints and is most commonly identified by the presence of redness, inflammation and heat in the joint. As the cartilage deteriorates it causes friction where the bones are constantly rubbing against each other causing chronic pain in the area. Because osteoarthritis affects the joints, it can be a problem in many areas such as the knees, hips, shoulders, or hands. While the pain associated with OA may be severe in a lot of cases, the good news is that it is becoming more treatable, especially when it is caught in the beginning stages.
Diagnosing OA early can greatly increase the effectiveness of treatment plans. There are 4 states or osteoarthritis, and each stage has specific treatments to help with symptoms:
- Stage 1: Minor – Stage 1 is the least severe. In this stage, typically minor wear and tear is present in the joints but doesn’t present a lot of pain, if any. Depending on whether or not you have any prior history of OA, your doctor may not see the need for treatment at this point, however, they may have you make some alterations to your physical activity or add a supplement regime.
- Stage 2: Mild – Stage 2 is slightly more elevated. This is when bone spurs become noticeable in x-rays. The affected area may be stiff and uncomfortable after long periods of inactivity. In this stage your physician may suggest that you need a more structured exercise routine and/or use of a brace.
- Stage 3: Moderate – In this stage we start to see where the cartilage has begun to degrade, bringing the bone closer to the joint. The joint will be inflamed here and will cause discomfort in routine activity. Treatment in this stage may include OTC (over the counter) medications. Prescription pain relievers may be given in this stage also, and in more severe cases hyaluronic injections may be necessary.
- Stage 4: Severe – This is the most severe stage meaning it is the most painful stage as well. In stage 4 cartilage is almost non existent which causes severe inflammation in the joint, there are multiple bone spurs, and pain is at its highest point. The treatments for this stage of OA often include realignment or replacement surgery.
You do not have to spend the rest of your life suffering from the pain or OA. There are many non-srugical treatment options available for your specific needs that can get you back to enjoying a pain free way of life. Call us today to learn more about our alternative options for osteoarthritis (518) 380-2432.