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 in the joints is the leading cause of disability for people over 50.
Osteoarthritis versus Rheumatoid Arthritis
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.
Risk factors for Osteoarthritis include:
● Excess weight
TIP: Dropping just a few pounds can significantly reduce the risk of developing Osteoarthritis. This is because excess weight adds unnecessary stress to our joints, leading to increased pressure. This increased pressure causes cartilage to wear away faster, exacerbating Osteoarthritis symptoms.
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 :
● Spine / Lower Back
● Neck/Upper Back
How Osteoarthritis progresses
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:
● Low level aches come and go, accentuated by occasional sharp flare-ups.
● Bending, kneeling, squatting, walking or climbing stairs increases the pain and frequency of the flare-ups.
● Popping or crunching (crepitus)
● Pain or stiffness keeps you from doing something you enjoy.
Traditional Osteoarthritis treatments
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:
● Synovial (joint) fluid is aspirated to increase pain relief and, if necessary, allow for laboratory evaluation
● A corticosteroid is injected into the affected joint
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:
● Pain after surgery
● Extended recovery time
● Painful and extensive physical therapy
● Up to a year before regaining full function
● Blood clots, infection and other standard surgical risks
● Possible adverse reaction to anesthesia
● Surgery may not relieve the pain
If you are experiencing any of the progressive symptoms of degenerative Osteoarthritis, do not wait to seek treatment. The more you delay, the worse the damage can become. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Skaliy, please click here to “Make Appointment“.
A Better Minimally-Invasive Treatments For Sciatica
Stem Cell Therapy has been used to treat at least 65 different medical issues, including chronic pain in the back, neck and joints. WIth physicians reporting up to 90 percent success rates, stem cell treatment has proven to be very effective in reducing and eliminating pain. Plus, since it comes with none of the potential side-effects of surgery, Stem Cell Therapy is also very safe…
The Effectiveness of Stem Cells in Treating Pain
Regenerative medicine is a new area of medicine that uses stem cells to regenerate tissue and “turn the clock back” to a more active and fulfilling life. We specialize in orthopedic regenerative medicine which has a long history of success scientific studies show the benefit and success of stem cell therapy for joints and back. We practice the safest and most advanced techniques to bring relief to or patients. Our success rate is very high.
Adult stem cells possess several different qualities which allow them to be effective in the treatment of damaged joints. When used to treat pain caused by damaged joints, stem cells:
● Differentiate between and grow into bone, cartilage, tendons, and ligament cells
● Offer anti-inflammatory effects, which reduces further injury
● Recruit other cells necessary to increase cell growth in joints
● Inhibit cell death (apoptosis)
● Enrich blood supply, leading to more healthy tissue regeneration
Specifically, adipose stem cells are effective in treating Osteoarthritis; and bone marrow stem cells have beneficial in Rotator Cuff repair, treating Avascular Necrosis (AVN) in the hip, and assisting with bone union.
The success of these attributes depends on several different factors including disease severity, the type of stem cell used, the procedure chosen, and other factors specific to the patient. But, overall, up to 90 percent of our patients who elect stem cell therapy experience significant, long-term pain relief.