Utah Osteoarthritis Pain & Treatment
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common cause of joint pain, and affects most people by the age of 70. It is characterized by the formation of bony spurs inside the joint spaces and a loss of cartilage. In a normal, healthy spine there is cartilage in place to prevent neighboring bones from making contact. Osteoarthritis pain occurs when the cartilage is lost and boney spur formations are allowed to touch adjacent bones, causing significant inflammation and pain.
What causes Osteoarthritis?
The exact cause of Osteoarthritis is not clear, but it is known that OA is not just a result of aging, but also results from a combination of other factors. These include genetics, joint degeneration, and other mechanical processes. Some of the symptoms that are often seen in patients with OA include: limited range of motion, joint stiffness or swelling when not in use, and joint pain during movement that ebbs during rest. Osteoarthritis pain is often felt within minutes of activity and can last for hours.
The joints that are most often affected by OA include the hip, knee, thumb, distal interphalangeal joints (closest to fingertips), and the neck and lower back (lumbosacral) regions. Getting older is the most common risk factor when it comes to osteoarthritis, but there are other factors to consider including joint instability, obesity, joint trauma, joint overuse or repetitive use. Women experience OA more often than men.
The Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis
Before a diagnosis is made, a doctor will thoroughly review a patient's history and conduct a physical exam, paying close attention to range of motion, joint tenderness, deformity, joint enlargement, swelling, and crepitus (cracking joints). Usually a diagnosis will not be made until radiological imaging can be studied to confirm the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Utah Osteoarthritis Treatment
Controlling pain and minimizing disability are the main goals in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Pain relief can be achieved through a number of techniques, depending on the progression of the disease and the severity of pain. Treatment commonly includes medication, life style changes, and/or surgery. Medications most commonly used in treating osteoarthritis are over the counter analgesics (pain relievers) and anti-inflammatory medication. In more advanced cases, opioids and a more selective anti-inflammatory medication can be prescribed.
Certain joints respond well to the injection of steroids and hyaluronic acid, alleviating pain for a short period of time. If osteoarthritis is allowed to progress, eventually surgery becomes the only treatment option. Some common surgeries for patients with OA include: arthroscopy, joint replacement, or an osteotomy, which is bone being removed from the joint. There are always risks involved with surgery and it is wise to discuss options with a pain specialist. Ultimately the best treatment for osteoarthritis is to prevent it from progressing by making lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise.
For more information on how Omega Interventional Pain can help treat your osteoarthritis pain, please contact us at 801-261-4988.