Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of joint pain, especially pain in the knee, hip, shoulder, neck and individual vertebrae along the spine. This progressive, degenerative condition robs millions of people of their quality of life every year. And the number affected by this disease is growing. In fact, by 2030, it’s expected that more than 67 million Americans will have been diagnosed with some form of Osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is typically accompanied by stiffness, tenderness and weakness in the affected joints. As it progresses, Osteoarthritis makes it increasingly difficult for people to use their joints. You may not be surprised to learn Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of disability for people over 50.
While the symptoms of Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis both include cartilage loss, these conditions have several distinct differences.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that results in the thickening and inflammation of the affected joint. Chronic inflammation causes the cartilage loss that defines arthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis only accounts for about 15 percent of all diagnosed arthritis cases.
Osteoarthritis, by far, accounts for the vast majority of arthritis diagnosis, and this progressive condition can affect anyone. In fact, if you are over 50, it’s highly likely your joints are developing symptoms of Osteoarthritis, even if you don’t feel any symptoms yet.
Osteoarthritis may be caused either by injury or simple wear and tear over time. As we use our joints, the cartilage that cushions our joints is worn down, causing our bones to scrape and rub. As more cartilage is worn away, it may be replaced by bone spurs or irregular cartilage growth. Both of these developments can lead to significant pain.
While the cause of Osteoarthritis in various parts of the body is similar, the disease affects different joints in distinct ways. Possible treatments vary as well. Click these links for a closer look at how Osteoarthritis affects these different areas of the body:
Have you ever heard or felt your back, hip, knee or neck joints popping or crunching? This is one of the first noticeable symptoms of Osteoarthritis. The popping, known as crepitus, is a significant indicator that cartilage in that joint has worn away.
Unfortunately, because we’re conditioned to think of these symptoms as just a sign of “getting older,” we tend to ignore them, as well as any relatively minor aches or pains, until they become debilitating. Here’s a standard progression of symptoms, so you can know what to look for:
People experiencing early Osteoarthritis symptoms sometimes believe, “if I rest it, it will get better.” While rest may offer temporary relief, it won’t heal the condition, which will continue to progress, leading to more pain and disease. The same can be said for treating the pain from Osteoarthritis with over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen (painkiller) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.
Intra-articular (IA) injections offer another traditional non-surgical treatment for Osteoarthritis pain in the back, hips, knees or other joints. IA injections use corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief in the affected joint. This is typically a two-step process:
Prognosis for patients receiving IA injections is good. Most patients report significant pain relief in about a week after the injection. This pain relief typically lasts up to six weeks, though some patients report a much longer period of pain relief. In fact, many patients receiving IA for hip pain reported significant pain relief for over three months.
Over time, as damage continues to build up, the condition becomes debilitating. When the disease has progressed to a certain point, many physicians will suggest joint replacement surgery. While this procedure has become increasingly common, it is still a major surgical procedure with risks including:
For years now, physicians have been very successful treating Osteoarthritis using Platelet Rich Plasma and Stem Cell Therapy. Even patients who have been told surgery is their “only option,” have experienced tremendous benefits from these proven non-surgical treatments.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) uses concentrated blood platelets, taken direction from the patient, to activate and enhance the body’s own healing capacity. In the procedure, a small amount of blood is drawn from the patient. That blood is placed into a specialized centrifuge to separate growth factors and stem cells from the red and white blood cells. The result is a super-concentrated platelet rich plasma.
Stem Cell Therapy is a minimally-invasive treatment that heals and repairs the affected joint, rather than simply masking the pain. For more than a decade now, physicians have been using Stem Cell Therapy to successfully treat 65 different diseases and other medical issues. The treatment works because stem cells actually repair and replace damaged cells with new, healthy cells. Up to 90 percent of patients who receive stem cell treatment report improvement in joint function and a dramatic reduction in pain.