Nearly one in three adults suffers from the swollen, stiff and painful joints of arthritis. Arthritis is the most common chronic ailment among the elderly, although it can affect people of any age, including children.
There are over 100 different types of arthritic diseases. The most common is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage protecting the bone ends wears away. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition in which the body’s own immune system attacks the joint lining.
Treatment typically involves a combination of anti-inflammatory medication and devices to relieve stress on the joint (canes, crutches or splints). Regular exercise, weight loss for overweight patients, and cortisone injections may also be helpful. In severe cases, orthopedic surgery such as joint replacement may be the only way to improve or restore function and relieve pain.
Osteoarthritis (OA), or “wear and tear” arthritis, is a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage cushioning the joint slowly wears away. The bone ends then rub together whenever the joint moves and the fluid-filled capsule enclosing the joint (the synovium) becomes inflamed. The bone ends may thicken to compensate for the increased friction, and bone spurs may form at the edges of the joint.
At first, discomfort and stiffness are mild and can be relieved with rest. Then, as OA progresses, the joint becomes increasingly stiff and inflamed, difficult to move, and very painful even when at rest.
OA frequently affects weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees and spine. Although it can occur to anyone at any age, OA most often affects the elderly, particularly women. Risk factors include obesity, a family history of the disease, previous injury or infection in the joint, and an injury that puts increased pressure on the joint.
Arthritis mostly targets the cartilage that protects the bones. As the cartilage is removed, the bones start to rub against each other more often, producing friction and further degradation and pain.
The preservation of cartilage is therefore essential to prevent the progression of arthritis. Weight bearing exercise such as walking and water-based activities can help bring nutrients into the cartilage and strengthen it. Losing weight may help reduce the strain on your joints and lessen the symptoms of arthritis. Injections of hyaluronic acid (HA) can decrease joint inflammation and offer pain relief as well as removing some of the stress on muscle fibers.
But when lifestyle strategies and medications are not enough to slow the wearing down of the cartilage, cartilage-preserving procedures may need to be employed.
Joint Health & the Arthritis Management Program (AMP)
South Island Orthopedics offers patients who suffer from osteoarthritis a professional strength, pharmaceutical grade joint care supplement called Medicines Direct Joint Health. Joint Health is made of the finest quality glucosamine and chondroitin and is made in the USA (here in Long Island) following strict quality guidelines in an FDA inspected lab. Joint Health is based on clinical trials demonstrating a reduction in joint pain and an improvement in joint function in some patients who have osteoarthritis. Joint Health is NOT available in retail stores and is available here at our practice for your convenience.
Free with your purchase of Joint Health is a valuable educational program called the Arthritis Management Program (AMP) which provides education on osteoarthritis, information on various treatment strategies, money-saving offers and other resources to help you manage your arthritis.
Ask your doctor or one of our staff members about these services.