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Understand Your Joint Pain

Understanding your musculoskeletal pains, causes, and your treatment options is essential.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs most often in older people. This disease affects the tissue covering the ends of bones in a joint called cartilage. In a person with osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes damaged and worn out causing pain, swelling, stiffness and restricted movement in the affected joint. This condition most commonly affects the joints in the hips, knees, hands, and spine. Rarely, the disease may affect the shoulders, wrists and feet.

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is caused by the wearing out of the cartilage covering the bone ends in a joint. This may be due to being overweight, excessive strain over prolonged periods of time, previous fracture, growth abnormalities, joint diseases, injury or deformity.

Some people have congenital abnormalities of the joints that cause early degeneration and subsequently cause osteoarthritis.

What Are Your Options?

There is no known cure for osteoarthritis; however, there are several treatments and lifestyle modifications that can help you ease your pain and symptoms. The objective of the treatment is to reduce pain, improve joint movement, and prevent further damage to joint. The treatment of osteoarthritis involves:

  • Medications: Medications may include different classes such as anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections, artificial joint fluid injections, and other drugs.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Some of the lifestyle modifications include:
    • A moderate exercise program
    • Use of Heat or cold treatments
    • Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet
    • Get adequate rest
    • Lose weight
    • Protect your joints with the use of assistive devices such as splints or braces to support the weakened joints
    • Physiotherapy: Your physical therapist will teach you exercises to keep joints flexible and improve muscle strength.
    • Surgery: Surgery is usually considered if nonsurgical treatment fails to provide relief. Joint replacement surgery is considered as an option when the pain is so severe that it affects your ability to carry out normal activities.

What are Your Success Factors?

Although there is no cure for arthritis, you can take steps to significantly alleviate your symptoms. Successful treatment of arthritis depends on getting an early diagnosis, the type of arthritis, your general health, cooperation with the treatment plan and making positive lifestyle changes.

What Do I Do Next?

If you think you have symptoms of arthritis, it is prudent to get it evaluated and treated before your condition progresses to permanent joint damage and disability. You can visit your primary doctor or an orthopaedic specialist or rheumatologist who specializes in arthritis and bone and joint health.

  • Royal Australasian College of Surgeons