Denver Arthritis Treatment
What is Osteoarthritis?
Sometimes called degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic condition of the joints, affecting approximately 27 million Americans. OA can affect any joint, but it occurs most often in knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe.
In normal joints, a firm, rubbery material called cartilage covers the end of each bone. Cartilage provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion, and acts as a cushion between the bones. With OA, the cartilage breaks down, causing pain, swelling, and problems moving the joint. As OA worsens over time, bones may break down and develop growths called spurs. Additionally, bits of bone or cartilage may chip off and float around in the joint causing joint pain. In the body, the inflammatory process produces cytokines (proteins) and enzymes that further damage the cartilage. In the final stages of OA, the cartilage wears away and bone rubs directly against bone, leading to joint damage and more pain.
Although OA is most common in people older than 65, osteoarthritis occurs in people of all ages. Common risk factors include increasing age, obesity, previous joint injury, overuse of the joint, weak thigh muscles, and genetic predisposition.
- One in two adults will develop symptoms of knee OA during their lives.
- One in four adults will development symptoms of hip OA by age 85.
- One in 12 people 60 years or older have OA in their hands.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, with more than 40 million people reporting that a doctor has diagnosed them with the condition. Of those diagnosed, 16 million are limited in their daily activities because of joint pain. Recent data from the 2005 Colorado Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) indicate that almost one-quarter (23%) of people in Colorado are living with some form of arthritis.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis vary depending on which joints are affected, and how severely they are affected. However, the most common symptoms are pain and stiffness, particularly first thing in the morning, or after resting. Affected joints may get swollen, especially after extended activity. These symptoms tend to build over time, rather than show up suddenly. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Sore or stiff joints – particularly the hips, knees, and lower back – after inactivity or overuse
- Limited range of motion or stiffness that goes away after movement
- Clicking or cracking sound when a joint bends
- Mild swelling around a joint
- Pain that is worse after activity or toward the end of the day
Here are ways OA may affect different parts of the body:
- Hips. Pain is felt in the groin area or buttocks and sometimes on the inside of the knee or thigh.
- Knees. A “grating” or “scraping” sensation occurs when moving the knee.
- Fingers. Bony growths (spurs) at the edge of joints can cause fingers to become swollen, tender and red. There may be pain at the base of the thumb.
- Feet. Pain and tenderness is felt in the large joint at the base of the big toe. There may be swelling in ankles or toes.
Osteoarthritis (OA) pain, swelling, or stiffness may make it difficult to perform ordinary tasks at work, or at home. Simple acts like tucking in bed sheets, opening a box of food, grasping a computer mouse, or driving a car can become nearly impossible. When the lower body joints are affected, activities such as walking, climbing stairs, and lifting objects may become difficult. When finger and hand joints are affected, osteoarthritis can make it difficult to grasp and hold objects such as a pencil, type on a keyboard, or to do delicate tasks, such as needlework.
Many people believe that the effects of osteoarthritis are inevitable, so they don’t do anything to manage it. OA symptoms can hinder work, social life, and family life if steps are not taken to prevent joint damage, manage pain, and increase flexibility.
How OA May Affect Overall Health
The pain, reduced mobility, side effects from medication, and other factors associated with osteoarthritis can lead to negative health effects not directly related to the joint disease.
Diabetes and Heart Disease
Knee or hip pain may lead to a sedentary lifestyle that promotes weight gain and possible obesity. Being overweight or obese can lead to the development of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
People with osteoarthritis experience as many as 30 percent more falls, and have a 20 percent greater risk of fracture than those without OA. People with OA have risk factors such as decreased function, muscle weakness, and impaired balance that make them more likely to fall. Side effects from medications used for pain relief can also contribute to falls, as narcotic pain relievers can cause people to feel dizzy and unbalanced.
TREATMENTS PROVIDED AT DOWNTOWN'S HEALTHCARE
The primary focus of care at Downtown's Healthcare will be to restore the normal alignment of joints throughout the body. It has been demonstrated through animal and human studies that bones that are not in their proper positions are more likely to degenerate more quickly, and therefore are more prone to the development of osteoarthritis.
Since our office looks at all aspects of health, our treatment programs will include various forms of physical therapy, nutritional and supplemental advice, and regenerative therapy. These forms of treatment have been shown in various studies to prevent and slow the development of osteoarthritis. If you fear that you have developed osteoarthritis or are concerned about its development, please contact Downtown's Healthcare to schedule an individualized consultation today. Our integrated medical team can help you get back on your feet.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic (long-term) disease. Up until recently there has been no cure. Treatments were designed to manage symptoms. Treatment and management of the disease will include several factors:
- Managing symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and swelling
- Improving joint mobility and flexibility
- Finding out if one is a candidate for regenerative therapy.
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Getting enough of exercise
One of the most beneficial ways to manage OA is to get moving. While it may be hard to think of exercise when the joints hurt, moving is considered an important part of the treatment plan. Studies show that simple activities like walking around the neighborhood or taking a fun, easy exercise class can reduce pain and help maintain (or attain) a healthy weight.
Strengthening exercises build muscles around OA-affected joints, easing the burden on those joints, and reducing pain. Range-of-motion exercises help maintain and improve joint flexibility, and reduce stiffness. Aerobic exercise helps to improve stamina and energy levels, and also helps to reduce excess weight. Talk to a doctor before starting an exercise program.