No matter a person’s actual age, everyone ages at a different rate. This is chronological age vs. biological age. We all know of someone who appears to be younger, or older than they really are. Haven’t you heard someone say, “I feel so old!” as their joints snap, crackle, and pop?
Arthritis is joint pain or joint disease causing pain and stiffness. Arthritis is often tender to the touch, and painful when pressure is placed on the joint or the joint is moved. Whether it is rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, it typically worsens with age. A history, physical exam, imaging such as x-rays and MRI scans, and occasionally blood tests are done to determine the condition of the bone and soft tissue. While there is nothing you can do to control your actual age, there are a few things you can do to help feel in control of how old you feel, and lessen the arthritis pain you may be experiencing.
People who live with joint pain caused by arthritis notice physical limitations, and it can be difficult to enjoy the most basic of life’s activities. This is especially true when it affects weight-bearing joints such as hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Walking, taking the stairs, kneeling, personal hygiene and grooming, the ability to reach and do housework, and social activities are affected. Some of these things are taken for granted by non-arthritis sufferers.
Painful joints are often managed with medication, physical therapy, or alternative treatments. Making healthy lifestyle choices such as exercising and losing weight can reduce pain and stiffness, and improve function. Your doctor may prescribe acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to help reduce pain and inflammation. Physical therapy can help by strengthening the muscles around the joint, stabilizing it, and improving your range of motion. Stretching and low-impact exercise such as bicycling or swimming help prevent joint stiffness and maintain both flexibility and muscle strength. Corticosteroid joint injections are another option to ease the pain and stiffness of affected joints. A newer and effective treatment for chronic pain in the knee, low back, hip, and shoulder is COOLIEF*.
Sometimes it takes surgery to finally say goodbye to arthritis pain. Imagine being able to go up and down stairs without pain, or enjoy hiking and biking again. Orthopedic surgeons like myself are specially trained in the surgical treatment of bone and joint problems. There are many effective treatments for arthritis, from arthroscopy to complete joint replacements. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), joint replacement surgery is successful in more than nine out of ten people, resulting in a significant improvement in their ability to perform common activities of daily living. Before determining a treatment option, it is important to have realistic expectations and understand what each procedure can and cannot do. Discuss the benefits and risks with your physician and orthopedic surgeon to determine the best treatment option for you.
Learn more about the numerous orthopedic services at Glacial Ridge Health System.