Pain can become an all-too-familiar feeling in your joints when you have osteoarthritis. Even the smallest movement can be painful once osteoarthritis has progressed significantly, making mobility difficult. Any joint can be affected, especially those that take on the burden of your body’s weight. It’s important, though, to take action on the condition quickly before it progresses further.
How Osteoarthritis Develops
While arthritis is the general catchall term for inflammation within the joints, osteoarthritis is a sub-type characterized by wear and tear that joints have endured over time. Some people may be diagnosed with the degenerative disorder after significant trauma has occurred, or it could develop as they age.
Who Is Affected?
While most commonly affecting adults over the age of 60, osteoarthritis can happen to anyone. In fact, it affects an estimated 27 million Americans. As people age, their joints begin to degenerate, but osteoarthritis can affect people in their 20s and 30s all the way into old age – depending on joint stress from repetitive overuse or presence of other chronic conditions.
Signs and Symptoms
Osteoarthritis is characterized by weak, painful joints that are also incredibly stiff. As the cartilage within your joint starts to break down and lose its elasticity, it continues to get weaker, more vulnerable, and susceptible to further joint damage. The cartilage that functions as a shock absorber to trauma can begin to break down, and could lead to bones rubbing against each other. This can be very painful for those diagnosed.
When to See a Specialist
If you’ve experienced significant trauma to your joints or are noticing overall pain in your joints, it’s important to seek medical treatment before it progresses. Speaking to an orthopedic surgeon can help you diagnose osteoarthritis or determine if you are suffering from another condition. Your doctor will ask you questions about your daily activities and your pain levels, but also may require extensive imaging, including an X-ray, to determine the amount of joint damage.
Treatments for osteoarthritis can vary depending on the amount of joint damage and how the condition has progressed. First, your doctor might recommend that you try to lose weight as a way to relieve pressure on your affected joints. Your doctor may also suggest managing your pain with over-the-counter medication, or pain management treatments such as icing or heat.
If these treatment options have been exhausted with little to no relief, you might need to start considering surgery as a last resort for degenerated, damaged tissue. Your doctor can determine if you will need replacements for damaged tissue, as well.
Orthopedic Expertise in San Antonio
If you suspect your knee, back, or other joint pain could be osteoarthritis, and you would like to get diagnosed and learn your options, speak to the experts at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine.
Our board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians are here to focus on your total well-being and help restore your body to full function. Call us today at (210) 692-7400, or request an appointment online.