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Identifying Osteoarthritis

Need for joint replacement can be a result of a range of different conditions, but perhaps one of the most common is Osteoarthritis. Many times referred to as Degenerative Arthritis, Osteoarthritis is a debilitating condition in the joints that is a result of wear and tear on cartilage around the joints. 

It is possible for any joint to be affected by Osteoarthritis (OA), but it is most commonly found in the knees and hips. Warning signs of OA are: stiffness after waking or sitting down, limited range of motion, swellings and popping or cracking when bending.

To diagnose OA a doctor will most likely order a physical examination. There, the doctor can examine the joints closely and see just how limited they are. From there, they may draw fluid for examination or order an x-ray or MRI.

The causes of OA can vary. It can affect athletes as well as those with a sedentary lifestyle. OA is common in athletes due to a repetitive motion that causes over-use. Damage to joints often results in damage to cartilage. The extra wear and tear athletes put on their joints is astounding. Interestingly, some of the same wear and tear is often found in persons who are overweight. The extra weight from being obese makes joints have to work harder. This oftentimes causes premature wearing down of cartilage. Physical health is not always a cause of OA. Genetics has been shown to cause degeneration in joints. One such factor is the lack of production of collagen. Collagen is a protein that makes up cartilage.

There are several ways to manage or treat Osteoarthritis, depending on the cause. Most treatments involve physical activity to manage weight. Additionally, “range of motion” exercises help keep joints loose and eliminate pain. Other treatments, such as medication, are available but a more permanent solution could be joint replacement surgery. Joint replacement should never be the first option, but many times it is the best option. Many patients who have joint replacement surgery performed have found relief from debilitating joint pain caused by OA. Making the decision should be between you and your doctor.

For more information, call the Midwest Center for joint Replacement at 317.455.1064.

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