Osteoarthritis, also called Degenerative Joint Disease, is the most common type of arthritis. It occurs as result of cartilage breakdown within the joint. The most common symptoms experienced with osteoarthritis are joint pain with movement, tenderness to palpation, crepitus (grinding sounds within the joint), and stiffness following periods of inactivity. The most common locations people experience osteoarthritis is in the knees, spine, wrist, hips, and shoulders.
Risk factors to developing osteoarthritis are previous injury to the area, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, joint misalignment, and heredity.
Making a diagnosis of osteoarthritis involves several steps. The first step is taking a thorough health history. This information guides the thinking of your clinician and helps in creating a mental list of possible issues to be sorted through. The next step is to perform a physical examination. The examination further aids in the discovery and clinical decision-making process. X-rays are also important in diagnosing the condition and quantifying the degree of structural damage that has already taken place. At times, advanced imaging such as MRI, may be needed to aid in determining the most appropriate course of action.
Treatment of osteoarthritis can be extremely beneficial and can involve many different modalities. These modalities can include:
One of the most exciting areas in medicine today is the topic of Regenerative Medicine. Regenerative techniques today can actually rebuild cartilage in a joint with osteoarthritis, turning back the wheels of time. At Palmetto Physical Medicine, we utilize Amniotic Stem Cell and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections to reduce inflammation, reduce pain, and regenerate your joint. For further reading on Stem Cell and PRP, see the Stem Cell and PRP pages of our website.
There is an old saying, ‘Motion is lotion’. We find this to be very true. As long as we are smart about what we are doing, movement can help to improve mobility, decrease inflammation, and even stimulate the regrowth of cartilage.
Being overweight places a lot of undue stress on our joints. For example, with each pound of additional weight on our frame, our spine experiences 7-10 pounds of extra pressure in the lower back. So being just 20 pounds overweight can place up to 200 extra pounds of pressure on our spine. Palmetto Physical Medicine has several options to help you lose those unwanted pounds. Refer to our Medical Weight Loss and Optimal Lifestyle Medicine pages on our website.
When muscles are tight and become imbalanced, they place unnatural stress and pressure on your joints. We at Palmetto Physical Medicine will help you to identify your muscle imbalances and show you the most effective way to stretch those tightened muscles.
Rehabilitative exercises are incredibly important in creating a well-supported joint. Passive structures like ligaments help to hold joints together and give them some support. However, a much larger amount of support comes from the strength, coordination, and balance of the surrounding musculature. Amazing amounts of pain relief and functional improvement can occur with an arthritic joint when proper stabilization is returned.
Joints can lose their proper alignment for a variety of reasons. A few of these causes are from muscle imbalances, postural alterations, and subluxations (partial dislocations). We often find a combination of these occurring on our patients with osteoarthritis. When these functional issues are addressed, mobility and symptoms generally improve dramatically.
Specialized Medical Equipment
Using the right equipment can help significantly to accelerate the healing process. We will provide you with the equipment you can use at home to reduce pain, reduce inflammation, support and correct your condition.
There are many options today in the conservative treatment of osteoarthritis. It is true that many factors including structural damage, muscle imbalance, joint misalignment, obesity, and poor conditioning are involved. However, with the technology and treatments available today, there is more hope than ever that you will get back to the things you love.