Osteoarthritis is a condition affecting the joints in your body. It causes the cartilage in between your bones to wear away. Cartilage acts as padding that helps your joints move easily and comfortably. Without enough cartilage, your bones can rub against each other which can cause pain, swelling and stiffness.
1 Am I at Risk for Osteoarthritis?
Half of all people over age 65 have arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis.
Younger people can also get arthritis, especially those who have jobs that require performing the same movement over and over such as bending.
People of all ages that are overweight are at a higher risk for osteoarthritis.
How do I know if I have osteoarthritis?
You may experience pain, tenderness, limitation of motion, or swelling in the joint.
A primary care physician will ask you questions about your pain and examine you to determine if you have osteoarthritis. He or she may also order an X-ray to look for changes in the bone and joint.
Treatment for osteoarthritis
The best way to treat osteoarthritis is to follow the plan that you and your primary care physician make to stay physically active. When you do not use your muscles and joints, they can weaken and make it very difficult to work and do everyday activities.
Do not lift heavy objects. Push objects that need to be moved instead of pulling them.
Over-the-counter medications that reduce inflammation can also help with pain. Anti-inflammatories may take the form of a topical gel (e.g. topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or topical capsaicin), a pain patch or pill. Sometimes an anti-inflammatory is injected into the joint.
Your primary care physician may also recommend special exercises to keep your muscles strong and flexible. Physical therapy may also help to strengthen the muscles around the arthritic joint. Both providers can help you design a home exercise program.
Applying heat from a warm bath or a heating pad can help with pain.
A device like a cane or shoe pads can help with pain by taking pressure off the area that hurts.
The following therapies are of uncertain benefit to treat osteoarthritis and include glucosamine and chondroitin, injectable hyaluronic acid, injectable platelet rich plasma, opioids, and acupuncture.
If you think you have osteoarthritis, talk to your primary care physician or call 212-924-2510 to make an appointment with a highly qualified primary care physician at Union Health Center.