Millions of people around the world live with osteoarthritis (OA), making it the most common form of arthritis and a leading cause of joint pain. As a progressive disease, it gradually worsens over time.
Knowing your risk factors for OA may inspire you to take preventive measures and address any signs that crop up early on. And given that May is Arthritis Awareness Month, it’s a particularly good time to gain that understanding.
Our expert team at Houston Pain Specialists, led by board-certified pain management specialist Hui Kang, MD, diagnose and treat osteoarthritis so you can better manage your symptoms and slow down its progression.
Here’s a closer look at OA, including risk factors and ways we can help.
Osteoarthritis affects people differently, but most everyone with the disease experiences joint pain and stiffness. You may notice that the affected joints hurt most during or after movement. And your joint stiffness may be most prominent after inactivity, such as when you first wake up in the morning.
Additional OA symptoms include:
- Joint tenderness, including when you apply light pressure
- Reduced flexibility and range of motion
- A grating sensation when you use the joint
- Crackling or popping sounds when you use the joint
- Swelling around the joint
Osteoarthritis can also lead to bone spurs, or extra bone bits that feel like hard lumps around the joint.
Osteoarthritis risk factors
A range of factors raise your risk of developing osteoarthritis, including:
- Bone deformities
- Being female at birth
- Chronic poor posture
- Family history of osteoarthritis
- Joint injuries
- Metabolic disorders, such as diabetes and hemochromatosis
- Older age
- Overuse of a particular joint, due to your vocation or sport
As far as age is concerned, osteoarthritis becomes increasingly likely after age 50. Similar to overuse from a particular type of exercise, age-related osteoarthritis stems from wear-and-tear over time.
Treatment for osteoarthritis aims to reduce your pain and other bothersome symptoms while slowing down the progression of the disease. A solid treatment plan can also improve your quality of life.
Depending on the specifics of your symptoms and overall health, we may recommend:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Sacroiliac Fusion
- Epidurals, for bone spurs
- Lubrication injections
- Pain relieving medication
- Special stretches to keep your joints flexible
- Steroid injections
At Houston Pain Specialists, we also provide medial branch nerve blocks, facet blocks, and rhizotomy for osteoarthritis.
For facet blocks, we inject a local anesthetic and steroid into a joint in your spine. Medial branch blocks are similar, but we place the injections just outside of the joint near the affected nerve, with or without a steroid.
Rhizotomy uses an electric current to cauterize nerves that send pain signals from the affected joint to your brain during a minimally invasive procedure.
Lifestyle changes can also go a long way toward managing your symptoms. Practices that can help include prioritizing healthy sleep habits, eating a nutritious diet, and engaging in low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, and yoga.
To learn more about pain management for osteoarthritis or get the care you need, contact our Houston, Texas, office today to schedule an appointment.