The most common chronic joint condition, it often is known as the “wear and tear” disease. It occurs when the protective cartilage between two bones wears down and causes the cartilage to break down. Joint pain symptoms, such as pain and stiffness, are most commonly reported. Although there is no known cure, there are ways to alleviate pain and discomfort, such as physical therapy.
Dr. Victor Chen
Dr. Victor Chen is a board-certified physician in rheumatology, and he completed his fellowship at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida. He specializes in
treating and managing diseases of the joints, muscles, bones, and immune system.
- What are the symptoms?
Joint pain and functional impairment often develop slowly and worsen over time, and include loss of flexibility, grating sensation, and swelling.
- What joints are affected?
The most common joints affected by osteoarthritis are the knees, hips, hands, and spine. Other affected joints include shoulders, elbows, ankles, and feet.
- How is it diagnosed?
Osteoarthritis is diagnosed by medical history, physical exam and diagnostic tests. During the physical exam, joints are examined for tenderness, swelling, redness and flexibility. Diagnostic tests include X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), blood tests and joint fluid analysis.
X-rays. Cartilage doesn’t show up on X-ray images, but cartilage loss is revealed by a narrowing of the space between the bones in your joint, and can show bone spurs.
MRIs. An MRI can produce detailed images of bone and soft tissues, including cartilage. An MRI commonly isn’t needed to diagnose osteoarthritis, but can help provide more information in complex cases.
Blood tests. Although there’s no blood test for osteoarthritis, certain tests can help rule out other causes of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Joint fluid analysis. Fluid from an affected joint is tested for inflammation, and can rule out gout or infection.
Dr. Forrest Powers
Dr. Forrest Powers completed his fellowship in rheumatology at Medical University of South Carolina, and is board-certified in internal medicine and rheumatology. He specializes in treating rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, scleroderma, gout, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and more.
- How can I reverse it?
There are no therapies available to reverse or slow osteoarthritis at this time; however, there are a variety of ways to alleviate pain. Typically, physical therapy is recommended to strengthen the muscles. And, medical therapy involves taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen to reduce inflammation. Supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine, or creams and rubs like capsaicin cream and menthol cream, also may be prescribed.
If osteoarthritis is found in the knee, hyaluronic acid injection (viscosupplementation) can help relieve pain. At times, especially in the larger joints, joint replacement surgery can help significantly.
- What foods or other triggers should I avoid?
There are no known foods that cause osteoarthritis. For your overall health, it’s recommended to eat as little processed food as possible. Being overweight will place more pressure on joints, but weight loss can help significantly with joint pain.
- What are the strongest natural anti-inflammatories?
There are no clinically proven natural therapies for osteoarthritis, but turmeric and ginger have natural properties to reduce inflammation, and they often are recommended.
Submitted by Northside Hospital