Living with joint pain is an awful experience that affects the normal course of an individual’s life. Though joint disorders have been more associated with the elderly (above 60 or 65 years of age), they might occur at a young age of 40 or so. In the past few years, there’s been an alarming increase in the number of cases relating to various joint conditions. According to a CDC report in the year 2020, over 32.5 million adults in the U.S. were suffering from a serious joint disorder known as osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis (OA) causes joint damage by gradual wear and tear of cartilage (tissue guarding the ends of bones and joints). The absence of cartilage makes the bones rub and grind against each other, leading to severe pain. Also known as Degenerative Joint Disease, it may not always be related to old age and may occur as a result of an injury/accident or heredity.
Though this disease can affect any joint in your body, it’s typically common in the hands, hips, give and knees, and progresses from stage 0 (mild) to stage 4 (very severe). It’s usually identified by such symptoms in the joints as:
- Grating sensations
- Severe inflammation
- Bone spurs
It’s important to note that these are only a few signs for determining this degenerative bone disease and you’d need to consult a specialist for further surety.
Complications Associated with Degenerative Joint Disease
There are certain risks and complications associated with degenerative joint disease. Some of these include:
Pain and Stiffness
Needless to say, the pain and stiffness caused by this condition give utter discomfort, especially as one wakes up in the morning, and it seems to worsen over time. There is generally a sensation of restricted movement of joints that may be followed by a grating or crunching feeling.
Flexibility and Physical Challenges
Depending on the area affected by osteoarthritis, the patient’s ability to carry out even the simplest task and body movements may be affected like – climbing the stairs, grasping, bending down, etc. Only an orthopedic doctor can help you overcome these problems with special medications and aids.
Osteoarthritis often results in troubled sleep because of the continuous pain in the joints. A person might wake up during the night and find it hard to smoothly change their positions. Consequently, this progressive sleeplessness can make your pain appear worse, leading to other problems like depression, physical and mental weariness, and so forth.
As this condition is related to joints, it may lead to further damage in that area like a pinched nerve in the spine, joint infection, cartilage breakdown (chondrolysis), and instability in the joint due to tearing (or thinning) of the tendons and ligaments around it.
Other Health Conditions
The lack of movement because of the degenerative joint disease limits physical activities and regular exercise, leading to increased risk of obesity, cardiac disorders, hypertension, anxiety/stress, bone death (osteonecrosis), high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure. Such problems, then, need to be addressed to a professional physician to manage the patient’s diet and exercise along with necessary medications.
Treatment for Degenerative Joint Disease at Advanced Pain Care
A thorough diagnosis of degenerative joint disease treatment is required for selecting an ideal treatment. Advanced Pain Care has one of the pain management specialist in Austin who accurately evaluates various joint conditions. Initially, they conduct a physical examination of the joints to detect inflammation, tenderness, and problems arising in different ranges of joint movements. Then, family history and previous medical records are considered to find any genetic influence on the disorder. Lastly, imaging tests (X-rays, MRIs, etc.) and lab tests (blood tests, etc.) are used to probe deep into the problem.
A combination of various treatments like dietary changes, exercise, lifestyle changes, physical therapies, over-the-counter medication (like oral/topical analgesics), nerve ablation, total joint replacements, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain injections/steroids are used for comprehensive cure.
In addition to this, surgeries may also be considered for managing pain like:
Arthroplasty – It involves the replacement of a joint with an artificial one (called a prosthesis) which has a life of 20 years.
Osteotomy – Surgical procedure that involves cutting the concerned bone for realigning it. It remains intact for 10-15 years.
Joint Fusion – Also called arthrodesis, this surgery removes a joint affected by osteoarthritis and then merges the ends of the remaining bones.
Don’t let your joint pain hold you back from living your life. You must immediately contact an orthopedist to understand the best treatment options available for your condition.