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Our highly experienced orthopedic specialists and surgeons provide individualized treatment for osteoarthritis, carefully taking into consideration the needs of each patient. We are well aware that no two cases are the same and therefore use every diagnostic tool available to identify the particularities of your condition. After a thorough examination, we will present you the safest and most effective treatment options for your specific case, all of which are carried out by employing the latest medical technology. Whether your osteoarthritis requires treatment with medication or surgery, the orthopedic experts at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital will ensure you receive high-quality care in a warm, compassionate environment.
Also known as degenerative joint disease and degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most prevalent chronic joint condition, usually affecting the knees, the lower back, the hips, as well as the spine. However, the disease can also occur in the joints of the fingers and toes. Osteoarthritis ensues when the cartilage – a rubbery substance which covers the end of each bone, promoting smooth movement – deteriorates. As a consequence, the patient experiences symptoms such as pain and swelling.
Over time, as osteoarthritis worsens, bones may also break down and spurs will subsequently develop. Inflammation will also take place in the body with the disease, which causes additional damage to cartilage. When osteoarthritis reaches the most severe stage, cartilage disappears almost completely and the two bones between which it was located will rub against each other, leading to increased discomfort. At the moment, roughly 27 million people in the U.S. struggle with osteoarthritis, the majority over the age of 60. The disease is one of the primary causes of disability throughout the country.
Although the damage produced by osteoarthritis to cartilage is irreversible, there are numerous medications and therapies which can alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Surgery is also available for osteoarthritis accompanied by unbearable pain, as well as for patients whose disease is unresponsive to non-invasive treatments. Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor will recommend you one or a combination of the treatments below.
The following drugs have been found effective for the long-term management of osteoarthritis:
Corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid injections may be recommended to patients whose discomfort cannot be managed by using only conventional treatments such as medication. After numbing the area, the doctor will inject the substance in your joint. It is worthy of note that a person cannot receive more than 3 or 4 cortisone injections per year, as this medication may actually worsen osteoarthritis in large doses. As for hyaluronic acid injections, they work by providing some cushioning and lubrication in the affected joint and thereby temporarily relieving pain.
There are multiple therapies people suffering from osteoarthritis are highly encouraged to undergo for pain relief, such as:
Because people diagnosed with osteoarthritis often struggle with performing even the simplest daily tasks, the use of assistive devices might be necessary. They can ease their difficulties and enhance the quality of their life to a great extent. Some of the assistive devices available for osteoarthritis patients are:
Joint replacement surgery is usually recommended for severe osteoarthritis cases in which the cartilage has almost completely worn out. It is also known as arthroplasty and is most often performed on the hips and knees. The aim of this surgical procedure is to restore the function of the joint, either by resurfacing the bones or by replacing it with a prosthesis (artificial joint). Joint replacement surgery can be carried out by using both localized and general anesthesia. Nonetheless, over time, artificial joints may also deteriorate and therefore require replacement.
In the case of secondary osteoarthritis, losing the excess weight can improve your condition significantly, as it will relieve the stress on your joints. For osteoarthritis which occurs in the knee, osteotomy might prove to be a great way to alleviate pain. This is a surgical procedure during which a cut will be made across the bone – either above or below the knee – and a wedge of bone will subsequently be removed or added to shift your weight from the damaged portion of your knee.
Depending on the cause, there are two types of osteoarthritis: primary and secondary. While the former occurs naturally due to the wear and tear of the cartilage which takes place with aging, being also the most common kind, the latter is the result of a condition which leads to cartilage damage, such as:
According to orthopedic specialists, developing primary osteoarthritis is inevitable if we reach old age, as joints are bound to deteriorate over time. This type mostly affects individuals between the ages of 55 and 60, whereas secondary osteoarthritis is usually diagnosed in younger people (45 to 50 years old).
In general, the diagnostic process for osteoarthritis entails undergoing a physical examination and one or multiple tests which will allow the orthopedic specialist to determine with certainty whether you suffer from this joint disease. After discussing your health history and symptoms, the doctor will take a careful look at your joints and test their range of motion. They will seek signs of joint damage such as tenderness and swelling.
Nevertheless, a physical exam in and of itself cannot provide enough information to assign you a reliable diagnosis, so the orthopedic specialist will subsequently order one or more of the following tests:
For primary osteoarthritis, old age is the main risk factor, as the wear and tear of the cartilage in our joints is unavoidable. The longer we use our joints, the more susceptible we are to developing osteoarthritis later in life. Other risk factors for primary osteoarthritis include:
As for secondary osteoarthritis, the disease ensues as a result of another condition which somehow affects the joints. Examples of such conditions can be found above, in the Types of Osteoarthritis section.
A wide range of home remedies and alternative treatments are believed to improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis. However, they should not represent the only form of pain management you use, as their purpose is to complement standard treatment, not to replace it. We advise you to always seek the opinion of your doctor before employing alternative remedies.
Here are several alternative methods of reducing osteoarthritis discomfort:
While primary osteoarthritis cannot be prevented, as it is bound to occur with ageing, you can lower your risk of secondary osteoarthritis if you take into consideration the following advice:
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