What a Pain: Living with Osteoarthritis

No one wants to be slowed down. Unfortunately, sometimes pain in the body can keep us from living and doing the things we want. More than 3 million cases a year are reported of people suffering from osteoarthritis, a common condition that can make it difficult to walk, bend, climb stairs, and even move one’s hands. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of arthritis that occurs when flexible tissues (cartilage) at the ends of bones begins to wear down. People can experience this pain in their hands, neck, toes, knees, lower back, or hips.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease.  Cartilage breaks down and becomes thin or worn away.  Without strong health cartilage bone begins to rub on bone, which is painful and results in swelling and loss of motion. This form of arthritis is the most common variety, If you suffer from this disease, you’re not alone. It affects 27 million Americans.

This disease most often occurs in the knees, but can affect any joint. As OA worsens in a patient, the bones can break down and develop spurs (growths), and bits of bone or cartilage may chip/fall off and float in the joint.

Anyone can be affected by OA, but it is found most often in patients older than 65 years old. Common risk factors for OA include: older age, genetics, obesity, overuse of the joint, a previous joint injury, and weak thigh muscles. One in two adults will have symptoms of OA in their lifetime.

Symptoms for this disease can vary depending on the severity of the disease and the joint that is affected. Here are some of the most common symptoms of OA:

  • Pain and stiffness in joints, after sleep/resting and after a long day of exertion.
  • Swollen joints, especially with overuse.
  • Limited range of motion and walking ability.

OA can make everyday tasks difficult. From driving a car and writing a check to making a bed and opening a package, a person can be in excruciating pain and unable to finish tasks. To diagnose OA, a doctor will take a good history of symptoms and perform a physical exam.  If other forms of arthritis are a consideration then diagnostic testing of various sorts may be recommended.

If abnormalities are detected, your doctor will discuss with you the best forms of treatment based on your condition. Unfortunately, OA is a chronic disease without a cure. Some nutraceutical products may be helpful.  Treatments are focused on managing symptoms and improving function.  Options include: strengthening exercises, weight management, stretching, analgesics, corticosteroids, hyaluronic acid injections, physical therapy, assistive devices (walkers, splints, canes), and surgery.

Experiencing prolonged pain in your joints? Don’t sit on the sidelines of your life. Get that pain checked out today, so you can get back to living.  Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness can exam you and run tests to determine the cause of your pain. To book an appointment, click here or call 239-362-3005, ext. 200.  Dr. Kordonowy is a concierge, patient membership physician in Fort Myers, and provides direct primary care services.

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Article By Fort Myers Concierge Doctor, Dr. Raymond Kordonowy

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