To reduce your risks, halt the progression of the disease or
ease the painful symptoms, here are seven things you need to know about
Osteoarthritis is not inevitable
Age is a risk factor in developing
osteoarthritis, but pain from osteoarthritis is not an inevitable consequence
The thinking about osteoarthritis has also
changed, from simply a “wear and tear” disease triggered by the breakdown of
cartilage as we get older, to a condition that affects the entire joint, not
just the cartilage. This shift in thinking may help doctors diagnose
osteoarthritis before significant cartilage damage sets on, by looking for
other signs of the disease, including morning stiffness, gelling (stiffness
after rest and inactivity) and locking or buckling in the joint.
Early detection tests are in the works
Despite the prevalence of osteoarthritis,
the disease often goes undiagnosed until it is in advanced stages.
There is no Food and Drug Administration
approved diagnostic test for osteoarthritis, which means it can’t be diagnosed
with a blood test.
While it is possible to see cartilage on an
MRI or ultrasound, subtle changes to the soft tissue that occur in earlier stages
of the disease are hard to detect.
Technology to halt disease progression is on the
While osteoarthritis has been long thought
to be a disease of the cartilage, researchers at Johns Hopkins University
discovered that the bone underneath the cartilage reacts to damage by forming
new bone. This new, unwanted bone growth further stretches the cartilage,
speeding its decline.
The research, published online May 19,
2013, in the journal Nature Medicine,
found that injecting a beta inhibitor called growth factor- Type I receptor
into the bone could halt its abnormal growth.
Researchers are developing a clinical trial
and are expected to begin recruiting patient participants in 2014.
Exercise is one of the best treatment options
For people who suffer from osteoarthritis,
the idea of using exercise to reduce pain is often met with skepticism. Many of
them have experienced greater osteoarthritis pain when they’ve upped their
levels of activity.
Rebecca Manno, M.D., assistant professor of
medicine in the division of rheumatology at John Hopkins says, “When you rest
the joint, you tend to feel less pain, but the inactivity can ultimately lead
to more discomfort.”
Exercise, on the other hand strengthens the
muscles around the joint, which ultimately helps reduce pain.
Exercise also releases endorphins, which
moderate pain, and helps overweight patients lose weight and reduce the stress
on their joints.
Low-impact exercises like swimming, water
aerobics, walking, and biking will put the least strain on the joints. Yoga has
also proved beneficial for decreasing osteoarthritis pain and improving
patients’ quality of life.
Extra pounds can make things worse
Excess weight only puts extra pressure on
the joints and may also trigger inflammation and other changes that increase
pain and stiffness, said the authors of a March study in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
The researchers estimate that half the
cases of osteoarthritis of the knee in the U.S. could be avoided if obese Americans could
reduce their weight.
Some treatments may be a waste of money
After evaluating the evidence for a variety
of treatments for knee osteoarthritis, the American Academy of Orthopaedic
Surgeons said there was “strong evidence against” these remedies: acupuncture,
taking the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin, getting injections of
hyaluronic acid in the knee, and “knee scraping” surgery to wash and smooth the
David Jevsevar, M.D., an orthopaedic
surgeon and the chair of the clinical practice guidelines work group for the
AAOS, noted that a lot of these are “legacy treatments” that doctors continue
to suggest because they have been used for a long time, despite a dearth of evidence.
You can do something about the pain
Although osteoarthritis is a progressive
disease and there are no treatments to restore cartilage or reverse joint
damage, there are effective treatments to improve joint functioning and reduce
Over the counter medications like acetaminophen
and ibuprofen, along with topical application of anti-inflammatory gels can
offer relief, says Manno.
For more severe symptoms, doctors may suggest
cortisone inject ions.
For advanced osteoarthritis, where the pain
is disrupting sleep and normal daily activities, your doctor may recommend
joint replacement surgery.
“There are treatments we can use that could
make a difference in daily functioning and pain management,” Manno says. “You
don’t have to resign yourself to living with painful joints.”
To reach one of our Advanced Senior Solution’s team members, either go to the Contact Us tab or call 727-443-2273. We’re here to help with all of your elder care questions, care needs, and much more! Call us today for a free no-obligation care consultation via phone or in person.