What is Arthritis?

WHAT IS ARTHRITIS?

Also referred to as degenerative arthritis or joint disease, osteoarthritis (OA) affects approximately 27 million Americans, making it the most common chronic condition of the joints. Although OA can impact individuals of all ages, it is most commonly found in patients age 65 and older. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 1 in 2 people may develop symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee by age 85, and one out of four people may develop osteoarthritis of the hip in their lifetime.

Cartilage is the firm, rubbery tissue that cushions the bones where they meet at joints, allowing for proper range of motion and pain-free movement. Osteoarthritis occurs as a direct result of cartilage deterioration—as the cartilage becomes worn down, the exposed bones rub against each other, and a number of problematic health issues may arise:

  • The shape and makeup of the joint are altered, obstructing the smooth functioning of the joint, causing patients to limp, or to have difficulty with movements that put stress on the joints (i.e. going up and down stairs)
  • Hyaluron levels in the fluid inside the joint may decrease, hindering the joint’s ability to absorb shock
  • Fragments of bone or cartilage may begin to float in the joint fluid, causing irritation, inflammation, and pain.
  • Osteophytes (bone spurs) may develop on the ends of the bones, causing discomfort and damaging the adjacent tissues

OSTEOARTHRITIS RISK FACTORS

As with many chronic conditions, OA cannot be attributed to a single, isolated cause. There are several variables that may put individuals at a heightened risk of developing osteoarthritis, including:

  • Genetics
  • Age—risk increases over time
  • Bone deformity or improper joint alignment
  • Gender—women are more likely to develop OA
  • Prior joint injury
  • Persistent job- or sports-related strain on the joints
  • Lifestyle factors: obese and/or sedentary individuals are more susceptible to OA
  • Medical conditions (i.e. gout, diabetes, underactive thyroid, or Paget’s disease of bone)

OSTEOARTHRITIS SYMPTOMS

Although osteoarthritis symptoms vary, the most prevalent symptoms include joint stiffness and pain, which tends to be most severe first thing in the morning or when trying to move after remaining still for an extended period of time.  OA frequently affects the joints of the hips, knees, lower back, neck, fingers, and feet, oftentimes hindering the patient’s ability to perform physical activities (i.e. climb stairs, walk, and lift/grasp/hold objects).

Although there is no known cure for osteoarthritis, it is possible to manage symptoms and prevent further damage with treatment from an experienced and skillful orthopaedic specialist, such as Dr. Brandon Gough, whose private orthopaedics practice is located within the prestigious Orthopaedic Institute of the West in Phoenix, Arizona. During your initial consultation, Dr. Gough will conduct a thorough medical evaluation and perform several diagnostic tests to observe your range of motion and check your muscle strength, reflexes, and ligament stability. If he determines that you are suffering from OA, he will create a customized treatment plan designed to ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

OSTEOARTHRITIS TREATMENT OPTIONS

When formulating your osteoarthritis treatment regimen, Dr. Gough may incorporate one or more of the following options:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Lifestyle Changes  (weight loss, exercise program, proper nutrition)
  • Orthotics  (brace, splint)
  • Medication
    • First line options–Acetaminophen and ibuprofen
    • More aggressive drug therapy options— capsaicin, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, corticosteroids, artificial joint fluid
  • Regenerative Medicine(platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, amniotic membrane stem cell injections)
  • Surgery—as a trained orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Gough is able to offer a number of technologically advanced, minimally invasive joint replacement surgical options for patients suffering from  osteoarthritis

CONTACT DR. GOUGH

Brandon Gough, M.D. is a widely-respected orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in the treatment of osteoarthritis and other orthopaedic disorders. Dr. Gough’s overarching treatment objective is to deliver high-quality patient care in a welcoming, compassionate environment. He employs cutting edge treatment modalities designed to safeguard his patients’ health, reduce the risk of complications, minimize any discomfort, and expedite the post-procedural recovery period.

In addition to his private practice at the Orthopaedic Institute of the West in Phoenix, Dr. Gough maintains operating privileges at Scottsdale Abrazo and Thompson Peak Hospital in the Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona area. If you would like additional information about osteoarthritis, or to learn how to manage this chronic, potentially debilitating condition, please contact our office today. We look forward to speaking with you, and to scheduling your initial consultation with Dr. Gough.

BrandonGough MD