The Four Stages of Osteoarthritis
If you have been suffering from chronic knee pain, it might be time to schedule an appointment with an osteoarthritis doctor Main Line, PA residents turn to. Call the Premier Osteoarthritis Centers of Pennsylvania to take the first steps in alleviating your knee pain.
The Four Stages of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis in the joints and can affect the hands, knees, elbows, and hips. Osteoarthritis in the knee hinders the functioning of the knee and causes chronic knee pain. As the condition progresses it can lead to difficulty walking or eventually complete disability. Approximately one in two people will develop osteoarthritis.
Whenever you are experiencing chronic knee pain, you should consult with an osteoarthritis doctor in Main Line, Pennsylvania. This is because OA can be prevalent without showing on an X-ray. A knee doctor can easily diagnose OA through various diagnostic methods including an assessment of symptoms. Once the osteoarthritis has been diagnosed, you can be prescribed an appropriate plan of treatment to reduce or eliminate the knee pain.
Stage 0 – Normal Knee Health – No OA
When there are no signs or symptoms of osteoarthritis, an osteoarthritis doctor in Main Line, PA will classify the stage as 0. This means there will be no need for OA treatment. If you’re experiencing knee pain, and OA is not the problem, a knee doctor may consider other conditions including an acute knee injury. If this is true, a treatment plan can be developed to address your specific symptoms.
Stage 1 – Minor OA
A patient with stage 1 osteoarthritis may have minor wear and tear of the knee and develop bone spurs at the ends of the knee joint. It is very likely that you won’t notice any discomfort or pain in the knee. At this point, a Main Line, Pennsylvania osteoarthritis doctor might not recommend any form of treatment. It may be suggested to take supplements including glucosamine in addition to making lifestyle changes such as incorporating exercise into your daily routine.
Stage 2 – Mild OA
In stage 2 OA, an X-ray of the knee joint may display more growth of bone spurs while the space in between the bones remains normal. You may begin to experience mild to moderate joint pain around the knee as well as stiffness and discomfort. This might intensify when you’re sitting for long periods of time, after exercising, or upon waking up. Soft tissue and cartilage may still be at a healthy size; however, a breakdown of proteolytic enzymes (proteins) could be occurring.
When a knee doctor diagnoses stage 2 OA, he or she might develop an individualized plan of treatment to reduce or stop the progression of the disease. This could include:
- A strict exercise regime
- Braces or knee supports
- Shoe inserts
- Dietary adjustments
- Physical therapy
Stage 3 – Moderate OA
When an osteoarthritis doctor Main Line, PA finds obvious erosion of cartilage around the knee, the gap in between the bones may start to narrow. At the same time, the knee joints may develop spurs, and fragments of collagen may be released into the fluid of the knee causing a progression of the disease. Joint inflammation and chronic pain when walking, squatting, or running may be frequent. Stiffness and popping sounds might also be common occurrences.
You may be prescribed non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs or, in some cases, strong pain medications. A knee doctor might suggest alternative treatments such as:
- Fluoroscope injections
- Physical therapy
- Viscosupplementation injections
- Dietary and lifestyle changes
- + More
Stage 3 OA can be treated using aggressive methods such as injections. Depending on the severity of the OA, you may need three to five injections over a period of 3 -5 weeks. Typically the injections will relieve the symptoms for approximately 6 months.
Stage 4 – Severe OA
Stage 4 OA results in a significant reduction of space in between the bones as well as an extreme breakdown of cartilage. You may experience chronic inflammation, pain, and discomfort whenever the knee joint is in motion. As the disease progresses, more spurs may grow leading to what some people say is excruciating pain. Walking or standing could be especially challenging.
A knee doctor might suggest a bone realignment surgery which involves cutting the bone to shorten its length and then realigning it so that there is less stress on the joint of the knee. A replacement of the knee might be another option. Both types of surgeries carry a certain amount of risk and will require physical therapy over the course of several months.
Find Alternatives to Knee Replacement Surgery!
When you are experiencing osteoarthritis, you may be looking into getting knee replacement surgery. Many doctors will tell you that this is going to be the best option for getting rid of your knee pain. However, there are other, better options to try before resorting to surgery, and often, patients who have gone through knee surgery find that pain creeps up again when they think it is gone forever. We believe that we can help you with your knee osteoarthritis before the only option left is surgery. Want to see what we can do for you? Reach out to our office now.
Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis
Your doctor may speak with you about physical therapy as one of the options for the pain you are experiencing with osteoarthritis. Your body works better when you are able to strengthen the muscles around your knee. This will help improve flexibility, range of motion, and increase circulation around the affected area. Done correctly, you may notice signs of improvement after just a few physical therapy sessions. Your doctor may also recommend you apply ice, heat, or a combination of the two to help with circulation and inflammation.
Other options that your doctor may recommend are knee injections. Depending on the type of injection, you may find fairly quick relief. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, for example, can help your knee utilize your own body’s healing properties to begin naturally healing your knee. By using your own plasma, you are less likely to have side-effects from the shot except for mild soreness at the site of injection. Hyaluronic acid injections may also be an option. This type of injection can help to cushion and lubricate the area around your knee joint so that you will feel less pain and even have greater mobility.
Your knees take most of the weight when you perform routine activities like standing, walking, running, and squatting. Because of this, you may find that if you are packing on a few extra pounds managing your weight with healthier nutrition and low-impact exercises can help reduce the extra pressure on your knee. Many doctors recommend activities such as:
- Riding a bike
- Using an elliptical machine
While you cannot cure osteoarthritis, you can treat the symptoms and begin the healing process. Do not wait to contact a doctor from our office to learn about the ways we can help you with your knee osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis in your hands
Osteoarthritis can affect one or several areas of your hands. These areas often include the tips of the fingers, the middle knuckle of each finger, the joint connecting the thumb and the wrist, and the wrist itself. The joints that are affected largely determine the symptoms that occur. These symptoms often include:
- trouble moving your fingers
- reduced range of motion
- crunching sound when you move your fingers
- trouble gripping or holding onto objects
Women are more prone to OA in the hand than men, and usually get it at a younger age. Hand OA can have a big impact on your ability to do the tasks associated with day-to-day living. However, treatments ranging from lifestyle changes to surgery can help.
OA can occur in one or both hips. In this way it differs from RA, which usually occurs in both hips at the same time.
Hip OA is a slowly degenerative condition. Many people find that they’re able to combat their symptoms for many years by using medication, exercise, and physical therapy. Supports, such as canes, can also help.
If the condition worsens, steroid injections, other medications, or surgery can help provide relief. Alternative therapies can also help, and new technologies are on the horizon.
Like hip OA, knee OA can occur in one or both knees. Age, genetics, and knee injury may all play a role in knee OA.
Athletes who concentrate solely on one sport that creates extensive, repetitive motion, such as running or tennis, may be at increased risk of OA. Likewise, if you pursue only one type of physical activity, this may overuse some muscles and underuse others, causing weakness and instability in the knee joint. Varying your activities helps to work different muscle groups, allowing all the muscles around your knee to be strengthened.
Treatment for knee OA depends on the stage of the condition.
Wearing a brace around your knee can be an excellent nonsurgical treatment for knee OA. Braces can reduce swelling and pressure. They can also increase stability in your knee by shifting your weight away from the damaged part of your knee. This allows for greater mobility.
There are several types of knee braces. Some may be custom fitted for you, and others are available OTC. Your doctor may recommend that you try different kinds of braces for different activities.
When You’re Experiencing Knee Pain, Call the Premier Osteoarthritis Centers of Pennsylvania
If you have been experiencing knee pain, you should consult a knee doctor for a professional diagnosis and individualized treatment plan. To schedule a consultation with an osteoarthritis doctor in Main Line, PA today, call the Premier Osteoarthritis Centers of Pennsylvania.