Our joints allow us to move and these hyper-mobile parts of the body are prone to wear and tear just like the rest of us. Many patients seek out Integrated Pain Consultants for help with joint pain, and the first step in a detailed evaluation is establishing the cause of the joint pain and the severity. Aging joints are vulnerable to osteoarthritis (OA), which is the most common type of arthritis. It’s also called degenerative joint disease and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that 30 million adults in the country have it to some degree. It is, then, no surprise that OA is a top cause for disability.
You don’t need to be a weekend warrior to struggle with OA. Even more sedentary people can develop OA after decades of walking, transitioning from seated to standing position, and from performing other daily movements. Over time, the connective tissue that covers the end of our bones degenerates. This can lead to inflamed joints and eventually arthritis. This connective tissue, cartilage, has a job of cushioning our joints to help with movement. The synovium is a membrane that creates a fluid to help keep cartilage lubricated. Sometimes the synovium gets thicker and inflamed over time, and that can also lead to inflammation when excess fluid is created—also resulting in eventual OA.
You can develop OA in any joint, but it’s most often found in the hands and feet, knees, spine, and hips. Cartilage may eventually deteriorate to such a degree that the bones begin to touch one another. This adds another layer of inflammation and pain. Bones can develop osteophytes (bone spurs) the longer they rub against one another. This is why so many older people feel sores and aches when they work out, stand up, or climb stairs. Soreness can also be caused simply from deteriorating cartilage. In short, your “shock absorbers” are failing.
Although most patients with OA are 55+ years old, it can certainly occur in younger patients and especially in athletes or those with excess weight. There’s no cure for OA, but there are treatments. Joint injections, such as a corticosteroids, minimize pain and inflammation. This can be helpful in tandem with a physical therapy routine and can even help delay or avoid surgery. Ready to get your joint pain under control? Call Integrated Pain Consultants at (480) 626-2552 to schedule an evaluation today.