Reno Pain

Osteoarthritis

Best Osteoarthritis Doctors in Reno, Sparks and Carson City, Nevada.

Osteoarthritis

While it’s common to experience cracking or swollen joints after a hard workout or sitting still for too long, it’s not common to experience these sensations for an extended period of time. Joint pain could point to osteoarthritis. Conservative therapies can help to relieve pain symptoms, but work best when osteoarthritis has been diagnosed in the early stages. If not, pain symptoms can become severe and chronic. The Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists in the Reno, Sparks and Carson City areas offer all treatment options to help patients reduce their feeling of pain and soreness now, as well as avoid additional symptoms in the future. 

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, also known as OA or degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. It happens when the cartilage that lines the joints wears down, causing the bones to rub against each other, causing pain. Bone spurs can also form in the joint spaces, which can lead to pain as well. 

The main reason why the cartilage will break down is because of wear and tear, mainly from years of use and overuse. Cartilage is the tissue that is located at the end of each bone, which acts as both a shock absorber and as a lubricant, helping the joint to glide smoothly. In addition to wearing down from use, an injury or other health condition can lead to the degeneration of the cartilage. 

Thinned cartilage can lead to pain. In later stages of the condition, when cartilage has completely broken down, can lead to even more pain, inflammation and loss of mobility as this causes the bones to rub against each other when used. 

While osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, it most commonly develops in the: 

  • Hands
  • Knee
  • Hip
  • Neck (cervical spine)
  • Low back (lumbar spine)

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

There unfortunately isn’t one clear answer as to why osteoarthritis happens. What most researchers agree on is that it develops slowly over years of use. It could also be due to a combination of factors in addition to lifestyle, including genetics, the breakdown of the joint over time, as well as mechanical factors of the body as a whole. 

The most common causes of osteoarthritis include:

  • Age
  • Sports injuries
  • Falls 
  • Car accidents
  • Health conditions that affect the joints

Additionally, risk factors that increase a person’s chance of being diagnosed with osteoarthritis include:

  • Overweight/obesity
  • Gender (women are at a higher risk)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Repetitive and improper use of joints
  • Joint trauma
  • Joint instability
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Autoimmune diseases that affect joints

Most people will experience osteoarthritis on some level in the later part of their life. While most suffer from noticeable pain sensations or symptoms, not everyone experiences symptoms. 

What are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

For those who experience symptoms, the most common symptoms include:

  • Pain 
  • Stiffness
  • Limited mobility
  • Swelling
  • Joint deformity

Pain is most often felt when the joint is being used, or quickly thereafter, and can last for several hours. As the condition worsens, pain can be felt regardless of movement. 

Who is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?

The best way to determine if osteoarthritis is the cause of your pain is to partner with a trained pain management specialist who can accurately recognize your symptoms and provide you with a diagnosis. In addition to performing a physical exam, your provider will utilize X-rays to check for any changes to the joints, cartilage loss and bone spurs. 

They will play close attention to any audible or visible symptoms during the physical exam, including: 

  • Popping or cracking sounds
  • Joint deformity
  • Limited range of motion
  • Tenderness in the joint
  • Swelling 

If they believe that you have osteoarthritis that has been caused by an underlying health condition, additional tests might be needed. 

How is Osteoarthritis Treated?

Osteoarthritis is a long-term condition that cannot be cured, but that doesn’t mean that symptoms can’t be managed and ideally improved. Treatments can help to manage symptoms as well as slow the disease’s progression. Pain management specialists will most often exhaust all conservative and lifestyle changes before resulting in more invasive options. 

The most common treatments for osteoarthritis include:

  • Exercise: low-impact exercises like walking and swimming can help to relieve stiffness and promote range of motion by keeping the joints lubricated
  • Rest: if your joint pain has been caused by a mild traumatic event, a short period of rest can help to alleviate symptoms. However, rest is not recommended for long periods of time or for later stages of the condition. 
  • Diet: maintaining a healthy weight, or losing weight if you are overweight, can help to reduce the amount of stress placed on the joints. Exercising helps a person to lose weight, but also reduces symptoms as well. 
  • Physical therapy: a trained physical therapist can recommend specific movements and exercises that can help to both increase your strength and flexibility
  • Medications: over-the-counter and prescription medications can help for managing pain flare-ups. In the beginning stages or for mild pain, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and pain medications are useful. For severe cases of pain and inflammation, anti-inflammatory medications are helpful. Opioid-based medications are no longer a recommended form of treatment for alleviating pain symptoms, unless in extremely severe cases. 
  • Joint injections: steroid and hyaluronic acid injections have provided short-term pain and inflammation relief in certain joints in the body. A great benefit is that joint injections allow patients to more comfortably take advantage of exercise and physical therapy to treat the underlying cause of pain with the goal to enjoy long-term results.
  • Surgery: when all other conservative therapies have been tried and pain relief has not been found, surgery might be the best option. Joint replacement, arthroscopy (a minimally invasive surgical procedure that allows a surgeon to examine and treat joint problems), or an osteotomy (when bone is removed from the joint) may be beneficial, but these options come with associated risks and complications. 

If you are living with joint pain and would like more information about treatment options, please schedule an appointment today with the Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists in the Reno, Sparks and Carson City areas. Our team can help to determine if osteoarthritis is causing your symptoms, and can help to recommend treatment that both gets you out of pain and slows the progression of the disease.

Your comprehensive treatment plan will help you eliminate chronic pain and get you back into a healthy life.

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At Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists, we know that you want to get back to living a pain-free life. To do that you need a pain management team you can trust. The problem is there are so many pain clinics that do not listen to you and treat you like a statistic which makes you feel frustrated.

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