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Osteoarthritis Treatment in Illinois

We Help Diagnose & Manage Arthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. It is a degenerative joint disease that occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears down over time. The breakdown of cartilage can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the affected joint, making it difficult to move and perform daily activities. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, but it most commonly affects the shoulders, hips, knees, fingers, feet, and the spine.

Causes of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis most commonly occurs from wear and tear over time. The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases with age, especially in those over 50, and is more common in women. However, there are some risk factors that can cause this disease to occur in younger individuals.

Risk Factors Include:

  • Previous trauma to the joint, such as a fracture, cartilage tear, or ligament tear
  • Overuse of joints from work or a sport
  • Obesity
  • Genetics

Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Typically, symptoms will build over time rather than show up suddenly. Different areas of the body may cause varied symptoms.

Symptoms Can Include:

  • Pain in affected joint
  • Joint stiffness, especially with weather changes, in the morning, or after inactivity
  • Swelling around joints
  • Limited range of motion
  • Clicking or popping sounds when the joint bends
  • Joint instability (such as knee giving out)

It is essential to see a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. These symptoms can indicate other orthopedic conditions, even if you do not have osteoarthritis.

Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis

There is not one single symptom or test to diagnose osteoarthritis. Instead, doctors diagnose based on several factors that account for the patient’s medical history, symptoms, and age.

Doctors will take a history, conduct a physical exam of the joint experiencing the pain, and often order laboratory tests to ensure other diseases can be ruled out.

If further information is needed, imaging will be ordered. The imaging techniques used includes:

  • X-rays: An X-ray can show loss of joint space, bone damage, and bone spurs.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An MRI can show damage to soft tissues in and around the affected joint.
  • Bone Density Scan (DEXA): DEXA determines the patient’s bone density. A DEXA scan is a test to diagnose weakness of the bone, or osteoporosis, and does not diagnose arthritis. It is a quick and painless scan similar to an X-ray. The values provided by the scan will be compared against two standardized values to determine a patients bone density, or weakness of the bone, and thus the risk for a fracture.

Treatment Options

Treatments are available to manage pain, improve joint function, and help you maintain a good quality of life.

Medications: Over-the-counter and prescription medications can help improve pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, corticosteroids, and topical creams or patches.

Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can design an exercise program to improve the affected joints’ strength, flexibility, and range of motion. They may also use heat or cold therapy, ultrasound, and manual therapy to help alleviate pain and improve function.

Lifestyle Modifications: Losing weight, if needed, can help reduce joint stress and improve symptoms. Low-impact exercises such as swimming or cycling can also help strengthen muscles and improve joint function. Assistive devices such as canes or braces may also help reduce pain and improve stability.

Injections: Corticosteroid injections directly into the affected joint can temporarily relieve severe pain and inflammation. Hyaluronic acid injections or Gel injections may also be used to improve the quality of joint fluid and reduce pain. Stem cell or platelet injections are newer types of injections that help reduce inflammation and may also be of benefit.

Surgery: If conservative treatments are not successful, surgery may be recommended. This may include arthroscopic surgery to remove damaged cartilage or total joint replacement to replace the damaged joint with an artificial one.

Contact Our Team Today

If you are experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis, our team can provide a diagnosis. Based on your specific needs, our orthopedic specialists will create a treatment plan that best suits you.

Schedule an appointment online today or by calling 630-584-1400.