Cartilage covers the end of each bone, creating a smooth surface that allows joints to move easily. But that all-important rubbery cartilage can wear away over time, resulting in pain and swelling in the joints. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease caused by the loss of cartilage in the joints, making it painful to move your hands, hips, or knees. If conventional osteoarthritis treatments such as prescription medications, physical therapy, or injections do not provide relief, our doctors at Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin can perform bone realignment or joint replacement surgery. Our practice, with offices in Cedar Park, Lakeland, and Austin, TX, can recommend the right treatment for your needs.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Common symptoms of osteoarthritis are joint pain and stiffness. Many osteoarthritis patients report pain or discomfort in the hips, knees, or lower back after rising in the morning, being extremely active, or finishing a period of inactivity. Stiff, swollen joints in the hands may make it difficult to grasp and hold objects. Something as simple as opening a cereal box or using a computer mouse may be a challenge. When the lower body aches, walking or lifting objects can be difficult. Everyday activities such driving a car may also be affected. As osteoarthritis progresses, bones may start to degrade. In later stages, the cartilage wears, causing the bones to rub against each other. This results in continued joint damage and chronic pain. Osteoarthritis is most likely to affect the:
- Hips, with pain in the groin or buttocks
- Knees, with pain inside the knee or thigh and sometimes a scraping sensation when moving the knee
- Spine, with pain in the joints and discs of the neck and lower back
- Fingers, with pain resulting from spurs or growths at the edge of joints
- Feet, with pain in the large joint at the base of the big toe and possible swelling in the ankles and toes
Our doctors treat cases of osteoarthritis with prescription medications, hormone-related therapy, recommended lifestyle changes, and, if necessary, surgery.
Causes and Risk Factors of Osteoarthritis
You may be more likely to develop osteoarthritis if you:
- Are older
- Have inherited traits that cause osteoarthritis, such as bones that do not fit together normally or an abnormally low production of collagen
- Are overweight, which stresses joints and causes cartilage to break down quickly
- Have joint injuries, including fractures or ligament tears, or engage in an occupation or sport that requires frequent repetitive movements
- Experience other bone and joint problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis
You cannot reverse your age or change your genetics, but you can work closely with an experienced medical professional to implement a personal treatment program for osteoarthritis. Treating this condition in a timely and effective manner can help improve your quality of life.
There is no known cure for osteoarthritis. However, a wide range of treatments are available to successfully manage symptoms:
- Weight management to relieve stress on joints
- Increased physical activity to strengthen the muscles around joints
- Stretching to gently improve flexibility
- Other treatments ranging from heat and cold therapies to hydrotherapy and range-of-motion exercises
Certain medications are also effective for osteoarthritis pain. These include:
- Over-the-counter drugs prescribed by a doctor
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ranging from aspirin and ibuprofen to prescription drugs, to reduce inflammation and pain
- Corticosteroids, which are anti-inflammatory remedies that can be taken orally or injected directly into a joint
Assistive devices can also help an osteoarthritis patient regain mobility and independence. Scooters, canes, walkers, braces and shoe orthotics are just a few of the devices that patients use to enhance day-to-day living.
Not every osteoarthritis patient is a candidate for joint surgery. However, if your doctor recommends surgery, this option can repair or replace compromised joints such as the hips and knees. Drs. David Dodgin and Matthew Heinrich specialize in joint replacement using minimally invasive techniques resulting in a short recovery period and fast healing.
We Are Prepared to Help
There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but there are ways to manage the condition. Contact us online or call (512) 476-2830 to schedule your private consultation.