Osteoarthritis: Symptoms and Solutions

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, osteoarthritis (OA) affects more than 25 million men and women over the age of 25 in the United States. That is nearly 14 percent of all adults. OA is even more common in the elderly. More than one-third of adults over the age of 65 suffer from OA. OA is known by many names – degenerative joint disease, degenerative arthritis, wear-and-tear arthritis; whatever you call it’s a common painful condition that can develop slowly and worsen over time.

OA is the most common chronic condition of the joints. It occurs when the cartilage or cushion between joints breaks down leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. It can occur in any joint, but usually it affects the hands, knees, hips, or spine.

Osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage in the joints. Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. Healthy cartilage absorbs the shock of movement, but when you lose cartilage, your bones rub together. Over time, this rubbing can permanently damage the joint.

Signs and symptoms of OA include:

  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Loss of flexibility
  • Grating sensation
  • Bone spurs

Risk factors for osteoarthritis include:

  • Being overweight
  • Getting older
  • Injury

To diagnose OA doctors consider medical history and perform a physical examination. These may be followed by laboratory tests, X-rays, and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. No single test can diagnose osteoarthritis.

Treatments include:

  • Exercise
  • Medicines
  • Surgery

MAY21If you have joint pain or stiffness that lasts for more than a few weeks, make an appointment with Dr. Wesley Johnson. His experience and expertise can help make the right diagnosis and choose the correct treatment for your individual case.

Read more about osteoarthritis online at: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/27871.php

All about Articular Cartilage

Articular cartilage is found in all moving joints in the body, and its role is to protect the bones by keeping the surfaces of the bones apart from each other, to absorb shock, and to help make movement smooth. Articular cartilage does this by providing a protective, wear-resistant surface to the end of the moving bones. Articular cartilage is composed of cells made of collagen and proteins. In healthy joints, this unique and durable material allows bones to move against one another with minimal friction.

Articular cartilage is a particular type of cartilage called hyaline cartilage. Hyaline cartilage is a hard, white, shiny material with a unique structure that articular cartilage imagecreates a surface that allows the bones to glide easily past each other. The special nature of this material also makes it particularly vulnerable once it becomes damaged.

When areas of cartilage are worn away or torn away, exposing underlying bone, treatment is designed to fill in the missing area or defect with healthy articular cartilage and provide new protection for the joint surface. Areas of cartilage loss interfere with normal joint mechanics and result in pain and poor joint function in affected individuals.

In addition to patient history and physical evaluation, orthopedic surgeons rely on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to assess the nature of a cartilage injury and formulate a treatment strategy. Advanced MRI technology has been tremendously useful to orthopedic surgeons in detecting articular cartilage lesions before surgery and objectively assessing articular cartilage repair methods in treated patients over time.

If surgery is the treatment you choose, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy afterward. This will help restore mobility to the affected joint. As healing progresses, your therapy will focus on strengthening the joint and the muscles that support it. It may be several months before you can safely return to sports activity, but hopefully, when you do, it will be to a life of less pain and more mobility.

If you have joint pain or other joint problems, schedule an appointment with Dr. Wesley Johnson. He has the experience and expertise to find the right solution for your joint issues.

Read more on this topic online at: http://www.cartilagehealth.com/acr.html


Physical Examinations: What is the Doctor Looking for?

A physical examination together with a medical history is used by your doctor to assist in the diagnosis process. Physical examinations are great for the fact that they can be interpreted immediately.

Orthopedic surgeons use a variety of diagnostic tests to help identify the specific nature of a musculoskeletal injury or condition, and while every orthopedic evaluation is different, there are many commonly used tests that an orthopedic surgeon may consider in evaluating a patient’s condition.

In general, the orthopedic evaluation usually consists of:

  • A thorough medical history
  • A physical examination
  • X-rays
  • Additional tests, as needed

A medical history is taken to assist the orthopedic surgeon to evaluate a patient’s overall health and possible causes of their joint pain. In addition, it will help the doctor determine to what degree your joint pain is interfering with your ability to perform everyday activities.

What the physician sees during the physical examination – which includes examination of posture during standing, sitting, and lying down, and gait analysis (watching how you walk) – helps to confirm (or to rule out) a possible diagnosis. The physical exam will also enable the orthopedic specialist to evaluate other important aspects of your joints, including:

• Rjoint exam picange of motion
• Swelling
• Reflexes
• Skin condition

After the physical examination, X-ray evaluation is usually the next step in making a diagnosis. X-rays help show how much joint damage or deformity exists. An abnormal X-ray may reveal:

  • Narrowing of the joint space
  • Cysts in the bone
  • Spurs on the edge of the bone
  • Areas of bony thickening called sclerosis
  • Deformity or incorrect alignment

If you are experiencing pain or other symptoms related to the musculoskeletal system, contact Dr. Wesley Johnson for a consultation. He will work with you to find the best solution for your unique case.

Read more on this topic online at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/spring09/articles/spring09pg10-11.html