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What is Osteoarthritis?
Arthritis refers to an inflammation of a joint or joints in the body. One of the most common types of arthritis is osteoarthritis or “degenerative arthritis.” Often described as “wear and tear” arthritis. Arthritis affects more than 15 million Americans.
Osteoarthritis follows the breakdown of cartilage in a joint, eventually leading to abnormal bone changes. The role of joints is to provide flexibility, stability, support and protection to the skeleton, allowing movement of limbs and the entire body. The cartilage assists in these functions by coating the ends of the bones.
In the early stages of osteoarthritis, the surface of the cartilage becomes swollen, forming tiny crevasses which hinder normal joint functioning. Inflammation may also occur in the synovium, a fluid-filled sac that surrounds the joint and provides nutrients and oxygen to the joint components. As the cartilage loses elasticity, it becomes vulnerable to further damage from repetitive use, which can cause a great deal of pain and swelling. In advanced cases, there is a complete loss of cartilage cushion between the joint and bone, which ultimately limits joint mobility.
Osteoarthritis is not a systemic condition – it does not spread throughout the body, but instead affects only the joint or joints where the deterioration has occurred. The joints most commonly affected are the knees, hips, spine, hands and toes.
Causes & Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis can result from trauma or from repetitive use, although there is often no single identified cause. It is typically divided into two broad categories:
Primary osteoarthritis commonly occurs with aging, as the water content in the cartilage increases and the protein portion degenerates.
Secondary osteoarthritis is usually due to another disease or condition, such as repeated trauma, infectious disease, gout or surgery on a joint. Obesity is a frequent contributor, as excess weight puts additional stress on the cartilage, particularly on the joints in the knees and hips.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
Pain in the affected joint(s) after repeated use, especially later in the day.
Swelling, pain and stiffness after long periods of inactivity, such as waking in the morning, that subsides with movement and activity.
Continuous pain, even at rest, is a symptom of advanced osteoarthritis, when there is total loss of cartilage.
In osteoarthritis of the spine, pain can occur in the neck or lower back. If bony spurs develop, the nerves exiting from the spine can be irritated, causing numbness, tingling and severe pain in the back or limbs. Osteoarthritis in the fingers can result in hard bony enlargements, and bunions can form at the base of the big toe if the feet are affected.
The degree of symptoms varies among individuals. Some people become completely debilitated, while others may experience few symptoms despite the severity of their condition. Symptoms may also be intermittent, and some individuals go for long periods of time relatively symptom-free.
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Arizona Pain Treatment Centers has been serving the greater Phoenix area since 1997. We have patients under our care that live in Phoenix, North Phoenix, Scottsdale, Peoria, Glendale, Maryvale, Tolleson, South Phoenix, Mesa, East Mesa Tempe, Chandler, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Apache Junction, Tucson, and even Globe. We understand that pain holds patients back in their lives and it is discouraging to watch people suffer. We know we can help.
Our treatments of injection medicine therapy (epidural steroid injections, non-steroidal injections, trigger point injections), therapeutic injections, nerve blocks and nerve ablations, joint injections and many other procedures, give life back to our community every day. We specialize in most types of pain, including neck and back pain, arm and shoulder pain, leg and knee pain, as well as headaches and migraines.