Do your knees, hips and shoulders “snap, crackle and pop” when you move? Whether you are a senior, someone approaching middle age or a young athlete in your prime, Tennova Healthcare advises that symptoms such as these could be a sign of degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis.
Once considered an age-related condition, arthritis can affect anyone at any age. The condition can range from slight joint stiffness in the morning to a chronic, debilitating pain that limits mobility and everyday activities, and reduces quality of life.
More than 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis—and over half of these cases are osteoarthritis, the most common type. Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that affects cartilage, the tissue that covers the ends of the bones in a joint.
“Healthy cartilage provides padding between bones that acts as a shock absorber for high-impact activities, and helps bones glide smoothly together at the joints,” said J. Christopher Sherrell, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon with Knoxville Orthopaedic Clinic and a member of the medical staff at Tennova Healthcare. “In joints affected by arthritis, the smooth, elastic cartilage that covers the ends of bones breaks down and wears away, leaving a rough surface where bones can rub together.”
Arthritis can develop in response to normal age-related wear and tear, or as a direct result of joint trauma. Symptoms may include joint pain, swelling or tenderness, stiffness, limited joint motion, bony enlargements in a joint area, or a “crunching” noise or sensation during joint movement.
“Over time, joints affected by arthritis can become misshapen,” Dr. Sherrell said. “Bits of bone and cartilage can break off and float in the joint space, or spiky growths called bone spurs may develop on the surface of the exposed bone—all of which can cause joint pain and reduce mobility.”
Those at risk of developing osteoarthritis include:
* Individuals with a family history of degenerative joint disease
* Those who are overweight or who have had prior joint injuries
* People who put continuous, repetitive stress on their joints through excessive lifting or bending, or through high-impact activities
Non-surgical treatment options for arthritis include lifestyle modifications, topical or oral pain medications, physical therapy to help strengthen muscles surrounding and supporting the joint, and regular exercise to help the affected joint stay lubricated and strong. If these treatment methods are ineffective, surgery can also help relieve pain and restore mobility.
“Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, early diagnosis and treatment may help slow the development and progression of the disease, avoiding further joint damage, relieving pain and stiffness, and preserving the maximum range of motion,” Dr. Sherrell said.
Tennova Healthcare offers monthly seminars on osteoarthritis and ways to preserve joint function called “Joint Pain – Don’t Let It Slow You Down” at convenient times and locations in East Tennessee. For more information, call 1-855-TENNOVA (836-6682) or visit TennovaOrtho.com.
Tennova Healthcare offers a wide range of classes and programs to help you and your family lead healthier lives. Whether you need assistance managing a health condition, are preparing for the birth of a child, or are seeking support from others who are facing similar health challenges, Tennova Healthcare sponsors community events and support groups to meet your needs. For a complete listing of classes and programs, visit tennovaeast.com/classes-and-programs.