Is joint pain making it increasingly difficult for you to move around and take care of your everyday tasks? Do your days revolve around pain medications and doctor visits looking for effective treatments? Know that you’re not alone, and millions of people are facing this very debilitating condition. In fact, studies were conducted by the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the condition between the years 2010 to 2012. Results showed that 22.7% (52.5 million) Americans aged 18 years, and above are dealing with osteoarthritis as it is called.
Experts estimate that by the year 2040, more than a quarter of the population is likely to have osteoarthritis. Although there are no cures for this ailment, you can make use of the several treatments available that can help with the pain. Science is coming up with new modalities all the while that can help you improve the quality of life, one of them being Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP therapy.
Source: General Doctor
What is Osteoarthritis?
Before exploring the various treatments for the condition, you might want to have a clear understanding of osteoarthritis and its causes. An ailment that affects the joints of older people and women more often than men, osteoarthritis (OA) is a problem related to the cartilage. Cartilage is a hard tissue that is present on the ends of bones where they connect at the joints in the body.
A somewhat slippery tissue, it acts as a buffer and cushions the joints when you move by absorbing the energy from the motion. Over time, this cartilage breaks or erodes leaving the bones bare to rub against each other. That’s why you have pain and swelling in the joints and find it hard to move.
As the disease progresses, the natural shape of the joint may change. To combat the regular rubbing of bone, small osteophytes, also called bone spurs may grow on the peripheries of the joints. If these shards of bone and cartilage separate and float in the joint, they cause more discomfort and inflammation. They can also worsen the condition by causing more damage.
Treatments for Osteoarthritis
Visit specialists in osteoarthritis, and they are likely to recommend different treatments that can help you manage the disease, lower pain and inflammation levels, and get better ease of movement. Here are some of the most effective ones;
1. Lose Weight
OA is likely to worsen if you’re overweight or obese. By losing the extra weight and becoming fit, you lower the stress levels on the joints of your back, knees, feet, and hips. These are the joints that support the weight of your body and prone to losing cartilage.
2. Take Up Stretching Exercises Like Tai Chi and Yoga
By doing stretching exercises like yoga and tai chi, you can help make your joints more flexible. As a result, you’ll notice lower pain levels and better ease of mobility.
3. Strengthen Your Muscles with Exercise
By taking up light exercises, you can strengthen your muscles around the weak joints so that they receive support in bearing your weight. Any exercises that improve the range of motion can, in turn, improve flexibility, so you have less pain. About 150 hours of moderate working out should be adequate to give you the benefits you need.
4. Get Devices for Help
Check with your occupational or physical therapist for recommendations on the devices you can get to assist you with your day-to-day activities. Ask about canes, walkers, shoe orthotics, splints, or custom braces and how to use them. All of these aids can help improve movement.
5. Pain Relieving Medications
The specialist you’re consulting can recommend medications to help with the pain. Analgesics such as tramadol, narcotics or opioids, and acetaminophen can help. Depending on your specific pain issues, you can also take Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as celecoxib, naproxen, ibuprofen, and aspirin. Corticosteroids are potent agents that work to reduce inflammation and can help you.
Hyaluronic acid is a component of joint fluid and works to lubricate and cushion the joint. Along with the cartilage, this acid also breaks down but can be replaced with the help of injections. Corticosteroid injections can also be administered in the joints to help with the swelling.
7. Surgical Knee Replacement
In case your knee joints are excessively damaged, your specialist might assess you for surgical knee joint replacement. An orthopedic surgeon is typically qualified to perform the procedure on you.
8. Alternative Healing Therapies – Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy or exercising when standing waist deep in water can help you strengthen the joints. Water provides the necessary buoyancy so that working out is easier and causes less discomfort.
9. Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells are specialized cells that can split and multiply. They also have the capability to transform into the particular cells needed at a specific area in the body. For instance, when introduced near damaged cartilage, they can create new cartilage. Doctors can harvest stem cells from your bone marrow, blood, and fat tissues. After isolating the cells, doctors inject them into the knee joints to help with the healing from surgery or injuries like a twisted knee.
10. PRP Therapy
PRP therapy is a highly innovative therapy that science has developed in the last few years. Platelet Rich Plasma is formulated from your blood. It contains a concentration of growth factors, mesenchymal stem cells. When introduced into the knee joint, the serum can stimulate the healing of the cartilage, bones, and other tissues so that you feel the pain easing and the inflammation settling. You will also find it easier to move. Several studies have proved that after taking PRP treatment, patients noticed improvements in their OA symptoms that lasted for 6 months or more.
While all the treatments that you’ve read about can help relieve the pain, discomfort, and inflammations caused by osteoarthritis, PRP therapy is the only treatment that can repair the tissues and cartilage in the joints. In this way, it can target the root cause of the problem and help you with the symptoms you’ve been facing. Talk to your specialist and discuss the various options when choosing the best treatment available out there.