About 32.5 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis (OA) — that’s almost 13% of the adult population. OA is more common among older women and men, but it can affect younger people, too — especially people whose jobs or hobbies put a lot of repetitive strain on their joints.
OA causes many symptoms, and as it progresses, it can also wind up limiting many of your activities. At his practice in Houston, Texas, Joshua D. Harris, MD, offers an array of arthritis treatment options, enabling him to customize every treatment plan for maximum results. If you’re suffering from OA and its symptoms, here’s how he can help you.
OA: Causes and symptoms
Joints form where bones meet, and on the ends of each of those bones is a protective layer of cartilage. Slick and tough, cartilage helps your joints move smoothly and fluidly while preventing damage to the ends of your bones.
OA happens when that cartilage layer wears down, creating isolated areas of damage or thinning out the entire layer. As the cartilage wears away, friction inside the joint increases, leading to inflammation and even more joint damage.
Years of wear and tear is a common cause of OA, but it can also develop in people who use their joints a lot for the same activities, over and over again. Less often, OA can happen after a traumatic joint injury or even following joint surgery.
Pain is certainly a common symptom of OA, but it can also cause joint swelling, warmth or redness around the joint, stiffness, and loss of movement in the joint.
Treatment options for OA
Since most OA happens with age, there’s not much you can do to prevent it. But fortunately, there are lots of options when it comes to treating OA and relieving its painful symptoms.
In its earlier stages, when your symptoms are relatively mild, you might find relief with simple, “DIY” solutions, like:
- Resting the joint
- Using heat to ease stiffness and pain
- Taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines
- Gentle stretches and exercise to keep the joint mobile
For arthritis in your knees, hips, or feet, losing extra pounds often goes a long way toward relieving symptoms of arthritis, and it may even help slow the progression of the joint damage.
Some people use compression “sleeves” for their knees or elbows. While these may help provide relief, they can also alter your circulation. In general, sleeves and other types of braces should be avoided until you can ask Dr. Harris if they’re OK to use.
Even though OA can’t be cured, Dr. Harris is skilled in multiple treatment options to relieve pain and other symptoms while also helping preserve joint health. Some of those options include:
- Physical therapy to improve joint function
- Assistive devices like braces or canes to relieve joint strain
- Prescription medicines for pain and inflammation
- Joint injections to reduce inflammation and supplement lubrication
- At-home exercises
- Medical weight loss
When these options aren’t effective in providing the relief you need, Dr. Harris may recommend surgery to repair the joint or replace it with an artificial joint or joint components.
Start enjoying your active life again
OA can take a significant toll on your ability to take part in many of the activities you enjoy most, including socializing with friends and family. With the right management plan, you can reduce or relieve your OA symptoms and recapture your quality of life.
To learn more about our customs approach to arthritis treatment and how we can help you relieve your OA symptoms, call 713-441-8393 or book an appointment online with Dr. Joshua Harris today.