Osteoarthritis, often referred to as degenerative arthritis is the most common of all arthritic conditions. This affects about 1 in 4 adults. The cause of osteoarthritis is not known. What occurs is that the cartilage or ‘shock absorber’ between the joints, which protects the bones breaks down and leads to pain, stiffness and often significant immobility. The symptoms are related to where the arthritis occurs. For example, in the cervical spine in the neck, patients may have a burning and radiating pain to their shoulder and arm. This is often referred to as a pinched nerve.
Another common site is the low back where patients have pain that radiates down their buttock and leg. This is called sciatica.
Sometimes patients have stiffness and pain in their legs after they’ve sat for a while. This may be due to a narrowing or stenosis in the spine.
Weight bearing joints and hands are other very common sites. See the photo link for pictures of these joints. Treatment is customized and individualized.
Diet and exercise are very important, particularly for patients who have limited mobility in weight bearing joints. Studies have shown that those patients who are successful at losing even 10-15 lb. of weight have significantly less stiffness and pain in their back, hips and knees.
We recommend land based exercises like Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates and swimming. These exercises improve muscle tone and conditioning and can help to relieve pain. Often anti-inflammatory medications can be helpful and are usually well tolerated. Working with a Physical or Occupational Therapist is helpful. Chiropractic and soft tissue massage is beneficial also.
Corticosteroid, as well and gel injections, can benefit the relief of pain and stiffness in many joints. When conservative measures are not helpful, we work together with many pain management and orthopedic surgeons.