169 Riverside Drive, Binghamton, NY 13905
Osteoarthritis, the most common
form of arthritis, is also called degenerative joint
disease or "wear and tear" arthritis.
Almost everyone is affected by it to some extent as they grow
older. It most frequently occurs in weight bearing joints, mainly
knees, hips and ankles. This form of arthritis slowly and gradually
breaks down the cartilage that covers the ends of each bone in a
joint. Normally, cartilage acts as a shock absorber, providing a
smooth service between the bones. But with osteoarthritis, the
smooth surface becomes rough and pitted. In advanced stages, it may
wear away completely. Without their normal gliding surfaces, the
bones grind against each other, causing inflammation, pain and
restricted movement. Bone spurs may form. In osteoarthritis of the
knee, the shape of the bone and appearance of the leg may change
over the years. Many people become bow-legged or knock-kneed. And
in osteoarthritis of the hip, the affected leg may be shorter.
What are the Symptoms?
The main symptom is pain, which is caused by irritation and
pressure of nerve endings, as well as by muscle tension and
fatigue. The pain can progress from mild soreness and aching with
movement to severe pain, even when resting. The secondary symptom
is loss of easy movement, such as bending or rising normally.
Morning stiffness is a problem for many people. This lack of
mobility, in turn, often causes the muscles serving the knee or hip
to weaken, and overall body coordination suffers.
How is it Diagnosed?
A simple weight-bearing x-ray and examination by a skilled
orthopedic doctor will determine if you have osteoarthritis.
Time-consuming and costly diagnostic procedures are not
What is the Treatment?
There is no cure for arthritis, but the past decade has seen
dramatic new ways to manage the pain, lack of mobility and fatigue
that are among its most disabling symptoms. During the early and
middle stages, a treatment program of medicines, cortisone shots,
ice treatments, exercise, and rehabilitation can be very effective
in reducing symptoms and improving mobility.
- Medicines: Coated aspirin helps relieve pain
and has few side effects. Non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
(NSAIDS), such as Voltaren, Feldene, Naprosyn, and Clinoril, are
prescription drugs for pain and inflammation. Do not take aspirin
if you are taking NSAIDS.
- Cortisone Shots: Cortisone shots are given for
inflammation. For many people, joint arthritis is often made
symptom-free for months or even years after cortisone shots. Four
to six shots a year can be given without any dangerous side
- Ice Treatments: Ice packs on the knee (for 15
minutes every 1-2 hours) are helpful for inflammation and temporary
relief of pain and soreness.
- Diet: There is no evidence that any specific
foods will prevent or relieve arthritis symptoms. It is important
to keep your weight down as much as possible because excess weight
aggravates arthritis by putting added pressure on the knee.
- Exercise and Rest: Prolonged rest and days of
inactivity will increase stiffness and make it harder to move
Motion is lotion for arthritis! At the same
time, excessive or improper exercise can overwork your arthritic
joint and cause further damage. A balanced routine of rest and
exercise is best.
What About Surgery?
- Arthroscopy: Arthroscopic procedures are not
generally helpful for arthritis. In some cases, a "flap" of torn
knee cartilage can aggravate arthritis and cause additional pain.
The cartilage flap can be removed by arthroscopy.
- Knee or Hip Replacement: Knee replacement or
hip replacement is a very positive solution to the pain and
disability of advanced osteoarthritis. The rough, worn surfaces of
the joint are relined with smooth-surfaced metal and plastic
For more information about a seminar at
Lourdes please call Lourdes Center for Orthopedic Care at