Knowledge is the best treatment

Osteoarthritis Treatment

Of the many forms of arthritis (Greek for joint inflammation), osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common. OA is also known as wear-and-tear arthritis and describes the condition where the cartilage covering the ends of bones wears away over time, causing severe joint pain. Although most often seen in the neck, back, hips, knees, hands, and shoulders, osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body.

While we obviously have more wear-and-tear as we get older, genetics, prior injury or infection of a joint, activities requiring repetitive stress on the joint, a person's weight, and other medical conditions can play a role in developing OA at an earlier age.

As common as OA is, unfortunately, there is no cure. However, treatment can help ease pain, restore function in the joints, and slow disease progression. At Salt Lake Spine & Sports Medicine in Salt Lake City, Utah, we formulate treatment plans for osteoarthritis to help allow you to live an active and healthy lifestyle.

How we diagnose osteoarthritis

There are other conditions that can cause joint pain and other symptoms similar to osteoarthritis. As specialists, we will take a thorough clinical history, perform a comprehensive physical examination, and obtain appropriate diagnostic studies to diagnose your problems and proceed with effective treatments.

Clinical History

The symptoms of osteoarthritis usually develop slowly over time. They include:

  • Joint stiffness after extended periods of rest that improves after getting up an moving around
  • Swelling, tenderness, pain in joints, especially after activities using the arthritic joint
  • The sensation or sound of bones rubbing or grinding (crepitus)
  • Symptoms can be worse in the morning when you are stiff, and then at the end of an active day

Diagnostic Studies

To help us confirm clinical suspicion and help rule out other conditions we may order:

  • Imaging: Most commonly X-rays, but sometimes more advanced imaging such as a CT scan or MRI
  • Blood tests to help rule out other forms of arthritis
  • On occasion it is necessary to take fluid from a joint and send for studies

Treatment options for osteoarthritis

As mentioned before, there is no cure for osteoarthritis. Treatment of osteoarthritis is aimed at pain relief and maintaining an active lifestyle. As with most musculoskeletal conditions, treatment options range from conservative to more invasive. Your treatment plan may include some or all of the following:

Physical therapy - Helps maintain or restore lost range of motion, strengthen the muscles around the arthritic joint to add stability and act as a brace for the joint, and develop a home exercise program for long-term joint health.

Medication - Options most often consist of anti-inflammatory medications, over-the-counter pain medications, topical creams and/or patches, and sometimes dietary supplementation.

Injections - Can help keep off extra weight and improve joint health

Surgery - Sometimes, when the osteoarthritis is advanced, and conservative management no longer provides the desired amount of relief, a referral for surgical treatment is made.

What we hope to accomplish with osteoarthritis treatment

While osteoarthritis is very common, it does not have to mean the end of an active and fulfilling lifestyle. As medical doctors trained in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, we will help provide appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

If you think you may have symptoms of OA, schedule an appointment with us at your earliest convenience. The sooner we identify your the causes of your symptoms, the sooner we can help you achieve a better quality of life.

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Is Our Practice Right For You?

We diagnose and treat people with numb hands/arms, numb legs/feet, upper, mid, and low back pain, painful arms, legs, and joints. If a medical doctor of another specialty or a colleague of another profession is a better match for your needs, we will get you pointed in the right direction.

What can you expect when you visit our practice?

You can expect to be treated respectfully and kindly by our team. You can expect to have all of your symptoms addressed. You can expect a thorough evaluation and explanation. You can expect to have your questions answered so that you can make good decisions about your health care. We will discuss your treatment options/alternatives so that you can feel comfortable with your treatment plan.