Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint and bone disease. It’s a chronic process of wear and tear on the joint that progresses with time. It’s also the most common form of arthritis, affecting about 27 million Americans. It can occur in any joint, but most commonly strikes the knees, hips, lower back, neck, and small joint of the fingers.
Letting your doctor know early, when symptoms first start, can help slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Visit one of our highly trained orthopedists at Dignity Health to begin your prevention and care for osteoarthritis in Merced County and surrounding area.
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
There are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis. The main one is aging, due to wear and tear of joints with time. Osteoarthritis can start in middle age, but it is most common in people older than 65.
Other risk factors include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a family history of osteoarthritis
- Having previous joint injuries
- Putting chronic stress on your joints from activities, such as sports and some jobs
If you are concerned about your risk factors, reach out to your doctor at Dignity Health to see how we can help.
Signs of Osteoarthritis
If you have arthritis in a joint, the cartilage covering the bones in the joint has gradually eroded, or worn away. Without this smooth buffer, bones can rub directly against each other. This causes pain and swelling. The pain tends to be dull and achy, and develops slowly. It’s typical for the pain to be worse in the morning or with inactivity. The joint loosens up with activity, easing the pain a bit. However, overactivity can cause a flare, which means you have more pain and other symptoms.
Other signs and symptoms include:
- Joint stiffness
- Limited range of motion
- Bump or deformity of the joint
- Creaking or grinding of the joint when you move it
Expert Osteoarthritis Treatment & Prevention at Mercy Medical Center
Our advanced treatment and prevention starts with nonsurgical strategies. Your orthopedic specialist will likely recommend:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines
- Injections (such as viscosupplementation to help lubricate the joint)
- Physical therapy
- Lifestyle changes, including modifying activities and losing weight, if necessary
Orthopedic surgery may eventually be necessary if these treatments fail to relieve your symptoms. The type of surgery depends on the joint, the extent of joint damage, and your age and activity level. Options range from arthroscopic (minimally invasive) repairs to total joint replacements.
You and your doctor will discuss your options to understand the right treatment plan for your condition and lifestyle.
Dignity Health offers the latest care for joint conditions and injuries, such as osteoarthritis, in Merced County.