Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint condition. It is a degenerative joint disease where the protective tissue around the bones starts to wear down from degradation, an accident, or because of abnormal joint biology. Patients with this condition often experience moderate to severe pain when moving the joint.
What is Joint Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a common condition of the joints and occurs when the cartilage around the joints starts to break down. It affects millions of people around the world and usually develops in the hands, as well as the hips, knees, and spine. Some people know they have this condition after an X-ray, while others get a diagnosis after experiencing moderate to severe pain in the joints.
Risk factors for this condition include genetics, the aging process, and sports or activities during youth that led to the breakdown of the joints. As the cartilage breaks down but doesn’t get replaced fast enough, natural degradation occurs. The body responds to the joints wearing own by initiating an inflammatory response which is what causes swelling. Over time, bone spurs can develop and the patient experiences even more pain as a result.
Dr. Kilaru will need to take X-rays and perform tests to find out exactly which joints in the hand may be affected by osteoarthritis.
Treatment for Joint Osteoarthritis
Treatment for joint osteoarthritis in the hands usually involves controlling inflammation. This includes taking anti-inflammatory medications which can reduce swelling and also help with pain. Cortisone injections can also reduce inflammation and are injected directly into the hand joint. Making dietary and lifestyle changes can help with inflammation; physical therapy can strengthen the muscles around the joints which reduces stress on the cartilage and bone. Certain supplements can help support the body’s process of creating cartilage but is not a cure all for those diagnosed with osteoarthritis.
Research is underway to study the effects of cartilage resurfacing and transplantation, and may be effective for smaller areas of arthritis of the joint such as the hands or knees. Patients with widespread cartilage degeneration would have little to no results with this type of surgery.
What to Expect from Treatment for Joint Osteoarthritis
Managing joint osteoarthritis is an ongoing process and usually requires making lifestyle changes to reduce symptoms. Osteoarthritis in the hands can be more challenging to manage and may limit many activities. However, many people get relief from symptoms by taking medication, undergoing physical therapy, and performing joint-strengthening exercises.
If you are experiencing symptoms of joint osteoarthritis, schedule an appointment with Dr. Kilaru today.