As we get older, so too our joints. Years of wear and tear can lead to a condition known as osteoarthritis. This can affect almost any joint including knees, hips, shoulders, neck and hands.
The pain is classically better in the morning after a night of rest and worse in the evening, especially after exercising. At times the joint will swell.
The more we weigh, the more load the lower extremity and back joints have to bear. This in turn leads to loss of cartilage, chronic bone irritation and increased pain with any movement.
What will help prevent osteoarthritis? One thing for sure is too keep a healthy weight. Avoid too many sweets as there are some studies which show a direct relationship with sugar consumption and chronic inflammation. Stretching the joints with gentle exercises such as yoga will keep the joints more limber and less likely to be injured.
Your doctor will examine you and may order xrays. The xrays will show the bony changes associated with osteoarthritis. At times a MRI scan will be necessary, especially for knees and shoulders which have a lot of cartilage, ligaments and tendons.
Treatment involves ice with joint rest. Ibuprofen or Naprosyn works well to reduce pain and inflammation. Physical therapy, especially for ongoing, severe pain is helpful.
If the pain does not improve, sometimes a steroid injection will help decrease the pain. Newer experimental treatments such as platelet injection (PRP) might help the cartilage regenerate but this is controversial and not covered by insurance. The hail Mary option is surgery with prosthetic joint replacement.