Updated: Aug 17, 2021
The most surprising news a newly diagnosed orthopedic patient may hear is that their chronic, debilitating joint pain is caused by something as common as "arthritis." There are three forms of arthritis that orthopaedic surgeons often see as the cause of hip pain, knee pain, or other joint pain, and fortunately for those that suffer, they all have treatment options.
By far the most common form of arthritis is Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative arthritis. This type of arthritis progressively wears out your cartilage between your joints. When this happens, bones may rub against each other causing persistent pain, stiffness, swelling and restricted movements. You may notice you have difficulty getting in and out of chairs or the bathtub, and that walking up or down stairs becomes painful. While these are common signs of OA, an official diagnosis is done by studying recent x-rays to look for a narrowing of the space between your joints.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than fifty percent of people over sixty-five years of age have OA symptoms in one or both knees, and nearly all of us will have arthritis in one or more of our joints by age seventy-five. Here are some other things that may contribute to OA:
Overuse. Using the same joints over and over in a job or sport can result
Obesity. Extra weight puts more stress on a joint and fats cells promote inflammation.
Weak muscles. Joints can get out of the right position when there’s not enough support.
Genes. People with family members who have OA are more likely to develop OA.
Sex. Women are more likely to develop OA than men.
The second form of arthritis I see in patients is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). This is an autoimmune disease, a more severe form of arthritis where the body attacks and erodes the joint cartilage. It affects multiple joints of your body, is seen in females more than males, and usually occurs at a much younger age. RA is managed by a specialist called a rheumatologist who will prescribe medications. I can usually come to a preliminary diagnosis of RA by signs and symptoms, plus x-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs or bone density tests. RA is more officially diagnosed by a blood test that is sent to a lab to look for genetic markers and inflammatory markers.
The third type of arthritis I see is post-traumatic arthritis. This is the result of a past sports injury or accident that has damaged your joint.
Orthopaedic surgeons and rheumatologists are able to alleviate the pain caused by all forms of arthritis. Treatments start conservatively using different types of medications, injections and/or physical therapy. If conservative measures aren't helping you do your daily activities without pain, we may recommend more advanced surgical options, such as scoping (arthroscopy), or joint replacements. Most importantly, you don't need to suffer needlessly with so many treatment options available for arthritis-induced joint pain.
If you would like to learn more about how arthritis affects your ability to live life fully, check out the Arthritis Foundation's site at www.arthritis.org. If you're ready to take the next step to find the treatment that's right for you, please call my office at (248) 626-0135 for a consultation or go to www.hipandkneepainrelief.com.
Best wishes for living well and fully!
Robert Ference, M.D.
Joint Plus Excel Orthopedic Center, Farmington Hills, MI