31 May Top Arthritis Treatment
Joint pain is a chronic problem for millions of Americans. Based on research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approximately 50% of people develop symptomatic arthritis by age 85 year. Joint pain involves discomfort and pain of the joints, often associated with limited joint motion and stiffness.
How common is joint pain?
In the U.S. alone, the CDC estimates that around 52 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis or rheumatic condition that causes joint pain.
What is the cause of joint pain?
Joint pain is caused by injury or damage to the bursa (sac around the joint), ligaments, tendons, bones, and/or cartilage. Wear-and-tear of the joint can lead to arthralgia, which is another term for joint pain. The most common causes of joint pain are:
- Osteoarthritis (OA) – This condition occurs when the protective covering over the bones (called cartilage) wears away. The bones rub together without adequate cushioning cartilage, and the friction causes joint discomfort and inflammation.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – With this debilitating condition, the body’s own immune system attacks the joint lining leading to pain and inflammation.
- Gouty arthritis – This form of arthritis occurs from a buildup of uric acid in the blood. Gout usually affects the big toe or knee, but it can affect other joints. The pain of gout is described as excruciating.
What symptoms are associated with joint pain?
Joint pain often occurs along with redness, swelling, warmth, tenderness, decreased range of motion, limping, stiffness, and weakness. Depending on the cause of joint pain, systemic symptoms may be present. Joint pain can be mild, causing only some tenderness after activity, or it can be moderate to severe, making slight movement and weight-bearing painful.
What are the risk factors of joint pain?
For many patients, the cause of joint pain is often not known. However, certain factors increase a person’s risk for developing joint pain. Risk factors are:
- Female gender – Women are more likely to suffer with joint pain than men.
- Increasing age – Older people have more arthritis and joint discomfort.
- Lifestyle – Jobs that require labor-intensive work and heavy lifting lead to joint pain.
- Weight – Being overweight increases stress on the joints.
How is joint pain treated?
Treatment is aimed at correcting the joint problem. For chronic conditions, therapy focuses on alleviating symptoms. Options include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – Most inflammatory arthritis responds to NSAIDs, such as naproxen or ibuprofen. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the drug of choice for OA, but this drug and NSAIDS should be used short-term due to side effects.
- Prescription medications – For severe pain, the doctor may prescribe an analgesic, such as codeine or hydrocodone. Narcotic opioid medications are not long-term options, and should be used for severe pain.
- Topical analgesics – BenGay, Aspercreme, capsaicin, and menthol preparations are all topical medications that prevent pain signal transmission. These can be soothing for joint arthralgias.
- Corticosteroid joint injection – The doctor can inject the joint with a corticosteroid agent, with or without an anesthetic (lidocaine or bupivacaine). When excess fluid is on the joint, it can be removed via an arthrocentesis done before the joint injection. Based on medical studies, corticosteroid joint injection has a 93% efficacy rate.
- Hyaluronic acid injections – Synvisc, Hyalgan, and Orthovisc are three hyaluronic acid preparations used for knee arthritis. This substance offers lubrication for the joint, mimicking synovial joint fluid. In a recent clinical trial, 80% of the treatment group reported improvement in joint function at 2 months follow-up, and 77% enjoyed effects that lasted one year.
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections – This involves injecting the joint with a concentrated plasma solution. Growth factors and healing nutrients in the PRP help restore joint function and decrease joint pain. This procedure has a 66% efficacy rate, according to a recent research trial.
- Physical therapy – To stabilize the joint, strengthen muscles, and enhance range of motion, therapy involves exercises and flexibility maneuvers. For pain relief, the therapist uses heat therapy, ultrasound, and electrical nerve stimulation. Physical therapy is proven to help people with joint pain in research studies. In a recent clinical report on PT for knee OA, patients had an 80% reduction in pain and crepitus (knee popping), as well as an overall increase in isometric and isotonic strength.
The top arthritis pain clinic in San Diego is Sorrento Valley Pain Relief. Over 95% of patients treated for symptomatic arthritis are able to avoid the need for potentially risky surgery. Most insurance is accepted, call us today!