Osteoarthritis tends to sneak up on you. At first, your joint may feel achy when you’re active, but the discomfort goes away so you don’t worry. Then you might feel a sharp pain, and suddenly one day you realize the pain occurs more often and lasts longer. And sometimes it’s downright hard to move the joint.
The best step you can take for osteoarthritis is to seek medical care as soon as your symptoms tip you off to a problem. Many people wait until they can’t tolerate the pain. But the sooner you seek treatment, the better your chances are of maintaining a healthy joint as long as possible.
Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease that keeps getting worse. With intensive arthritis management from Andrew B. Richardson, MD, you can extend the life of the joint, diminish your pain, and keep moving.
Your arthritis management plan may begin with one of the following treatments and add additional services as needed to relieve your symptoms. Or you may need several treatments right from the start if your osteoarthritis has progressed to an advanced stage.
Physical therapy and exercise
People with osteoarthritis sometimes worry that exercise will harm an arthritic joint. However, staying active forms the foundation of your osteoarthritis treatment. Exercise slows down the progressive joint damage and eases your pain by:
- Boosting circulation
- Reducing swelling
- Promoting healing
- Relieving stiffness
- Increasing joint lubrication
- Improving range of motion
- Strengthening muscles that support the joint
- Maintaining strong bones
When you start physical therapy, you get the support of a professional who plans your exercise regimen to ensure you don’t overdo it and stress your joints. Your therapist also gives you tips for modifying your daily activities and creates an at-home exercise plan that enhances your results.
Being overweight puts an incredible amount of stress on your hip, knee, ankle, and foot joints. For example, carrying just 10 extra pounds increases the force on your knee by 30-60 pounds.
Think about that. Every time you take a step, your knee bears your upper body weight plus 30-60 additional pounds — or more if you’re more than 10 pounds over your healthy weight. That’s guaranteed to accelerate joint degeneration from osteoarthritis and increase your pain.
A comprehensive weight management program includes medical supervision, dietary advice, nutrition counseling, and exercise or physical therapy. You also get ongoing support that helps keep you on track.
We inject different medications directly into the joint to relieve your pain and improve movement. Your osteoarthritis may improve with:
Steroids ease pain by reducing inflammation.
Hyaluronic acid injections
Your joints naturally produce hyaluronic acid, a thick fluid that lubricates the joint and absorbs shock. Hyaluronic acid levels decline in people with osteoarthritis. An injection that restores the fluid helps relieve pain and reduce stiffness, and it may slow down joint degeneration.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections
PRP contains a high concentration of platelets obtained from a small sample of your own blood. Platelets carry proteins called growth factors, which they automatically release at injured tissues.
Growth factors activate healing in the tissues damaged by osteoarthritis. They also regulate inflammation and recruit stem cells to the area. The stem cells regenerate the tissues needed to help heal your joint.
We provide comprehensive osteoarthritis care with the goal of protecting your joint and giving you optimal symptom relief. However, osteoarthritis progressively breaks down cartilage and bone, and it’s incurable.
Over time, your joint may sustain such extensive damage that a joint replacement is your only treatment option. As joint replacement experts, we often perform outpatient joint replacement surgery using minimally invasive techniques. This type of procedure causes less pain and promotes a faster recovery.
With today’s advanced technology, your new joint moves just like your original joint — but without the pain or stiffness — and lasts a long time. Knee replacements typically last 25 years for most people, while a hip replacement should keep you moving for 15-20 years.
If you develop the nagging joint pain or stiffness of osteoarthritis, call Andrew B. Richardson, MD, or request an appointment online today. Don’t wait to get the help you need.