Arthritis

Arthritis

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is by far the most common type of arthritis, and the percentage of people who have it grows higher with age. An estimated 27 million Americans age 25 and older have osteoarthritis.

How Does Osteoarthritis Affect People?
People with osteoarthritis usually experience joint pain and stiffness. The most commonly affected joints are those at the ends of the fingers (closest to the nail), thumbs, neck, lower back, knees, and hips.
Osteoarthritis affects different people differently. It may progress quickly, but for most people, joint damage develops gradually over years. In some people, osteoarthritis is relatively mild and interferes little with day-to-day life; in others, it causes significant pain and disability.
What is Arthritis?
The material coating our joints, an elastic tissue only a few millimeters thick, is called articular cartilage. This cartilage does not readily repair itself if it is damaged. If destruction of cartilage gets severe enough, it results in the loss of the cushion that supports the joint- this is defined as arthritis.
There are many reasons for cartilage loss. Some causes are related to injury, some to repetitive sports or work related activities, some to a genetic predisposition to lose cartilage. Often in one individual there may be more than one cause.
What is the cause of arthritis to begin with?
Osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease involve the deterioration of the articular cartilage that line the joints and similar changes in surrounding bones and tissue. This degeneration is due to loss of joint supportive structure caused by ligament weakness and injury.
Cause of Arthritis
1) A ligament is injured, either by overuse or trauma (such as a sports injury or accident).
2) Because a ligament has a poor blood supply, it does not heal properly. (Unlike muscles that have a very good blood supply).
3) Over time the ligaments weaken, stretch and lose a portion of their elasticity.
4) Ligaments function as the stabilizers of joints. Weak ligaments lead to unstable joints.
5) As a result, muscles need to compensate, leading to muscle ache and spasm.
6) Overgrowth of bone occurs to help stabilize the injured ligament.
7) Pain and disability will only worsen unless the ligaments and cartilage are addressed.
The best treatment for osteoarthritis is initiating the repair and growth of ligament tissue and intra-articular cartilage using regenerative injection therapies like prolotherapy, platelet rich plasma therapy and prolozone therapy.

Common medical treatment of osteoarthritis is very rudimentary at best. It is aimed at decreasing the discomfort associated with a deteriorating joint and not with treating the cause of the arthritis to begin with. A common initial treatment is the use of anti-inflammatory and pain medications. When these lose their effectiveness, as the joint continues to further degenerate, stronger anti-inflammatories in the form of cortisone shots are employed. While these injections usually bring pain relief for 2-8 weeks, they do so at a price! Cortisone inhibits almost every type of  immune response, including tissue healing. In fact, they are proven to inhibit the healing of soft tissue and accelerate cartilage degeneration. Cortisone shots will make the arthritis worse! The final option is surgery, which may lead to temporary improvements, and possible worsening of your symptoms due to tissue damage directly from the surgery.
These treatments: NSAIDS, cortisone shots and surgery all can contribute to the cause of arthritis, articular tissue damage.

What Areas Does Osteoarthritis Affect?

Osteoarthritis most often occurs in the hands (at the ends of the fingers and thumbs), spine (neck and lower back), knees, and hips.

How Do You Know if You Have Osteoarthritis?
Usually, osteoarthritis comes on slowly. Early in the disease, your joints may ache after physical work or exercise. Later on, joint pain may become more persistent. You may also experience joint stiffness, particularly when you first wake up in the morning or have been in one position for a long time.
Although osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, most often it affects the hands, knees, hips, and spine (either at the neck or lower back). Different characteristics of the disease can depend on the specific joint(s) affected. For information on the joints most often affected by osteoarthritis, see the following descriptions:
Hands. Osteoarthritis of the hands seems to have some hereditary characteristics; that is, it runs in families. If your mother or grandmother has or had osteoarthritis in their hands, you’re at greater-than-average risk of having it too. Women are more likely than men to have hand involvement and, for most, it develops after menopause.
When osteoarthritis involves the hands, small, bony knobs may appear on the end joints (those closest to the nails) of the fingers. They are called Heberden’s (HEBerr-denz) nodes. Similar knobs, called Bouchard’s (boo-SHARDZ) nodes, can appear on the middle joints of the fingers. Fingers can become enlarged and gnarled, and they may ache or be stiff and numb. The base of the thumb joint also is commonly affected by osteoarthritis.
Knees. The knees are among the joints most commonly affected by osteoarthritis. Symptoms of knee osteoarthritis include stiffness, swelling, and pain, which make it hard to walk, climb, and get in and out of chairs and bathtubs. Osteoarthritis in the knees can lead to disability.
Hips. The hips are also common sites of osteoarthritis. As with knee osteoarthritis, symptoms of hip osteoarthritis include pain and stiffness of the joint itself. But sometimes pain is felt in the groin, inner thigh, buttocks, or even the knees. Osteoarthritis of the hip may limit moving and bending, making daily activities such as dressing and putting on shoes a challenge.
Spine. Osteoarthritis of the spine may show up as stiffness and pain in the neck or lower back. In some cases, arthritis-related changes in the spine can cause pressure on the nerves where they exit the spinal column, resulting in weakness, tingling, or numbness of the arms and legs. In severe cases, this can even affect bladder and bowel function.
The Warning Signs of Osteoarthritis
Stiffness in a joint after getting out of bed or sitting for a long time
Swelling in one or more joints
Crunching feeling or the sound of bone rubbing on bone
About a third of people whose x rays show evidence of osteoarthritis report pain or other symptoms. For those who experience steady or intermittent pain, it is typically aggravated by activity and relieved by rest.
With new technology being advanced every day to increase articular cartilage and ligament regeneration, there are very effective options now available. Please contact Dr Glen Jarosz to discuss these options to get you back moving again and pain free.