Doctors hands


What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition where the cartilage cushioning the the ends of bones forming the joints breaks down. It also is characterized by a deterioration of the tendons and ligaments, and possibly inflammation of the joint lining. OA is clearly related to aging, with both the incidence and prevalence of OA increasing with age. Research has shown that the lifetime risk of developing OA of the knee is 46% and of the hip, 25%. To this day, there has been no cure for OA, and treatment of OA focuses on reducing pain and improving function.  

The lifetime risk of developing OA of the knee is 46%


Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

OA usually affects commonly used joints such as the hands and spine, and weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips.

Symptoms include: 

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Joint pain and stiffness

May occur during or after activity, first thing in the morning or at the end of the day

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Decreased joint function

Tends to progress over time

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Swelling at the joint

May affect the hands and feet

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Cracking or grinding noise with movement

Often presents in the knee or hip


Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis

Rheumatologists and orthopedic surgeons are experts in diagnosing and treating OA and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. A diagnosis of OA may be based on symptoms, examination and imaging. 

The lifetime risk of developing OA of the hip is 25%


Treatments for Osteoarthritis

While there is no cure for OA, its symptoms can often be managed and its progression delayed. Physical therapy and lifestyle changes such as losing weight and daily exercise are very important key in the treatment of OA. Your rheumatologist may prescribe any of the following depending on the severity of your condition. 

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Topical treatments

Creams and ointments such as lidocaine, capsaicin and diclofenac can be applied directly on the skin covering the joint and may provide temporary relief from symptoms.

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Oral medications

Tylenol, or Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) can be used as initial treatment.

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Joint injections

There are different types of injections that can be used, Corticosteroids, or cortisone shots, Hyaluronic acid injections, PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma), Traumeel and Zeel , all of which can provide extended pain relief from OA. These injections may delay knee replacement by a few years in some patients. 

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In severe cases of OA, surgery may be the best option. Your rheumatologist will refer you to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in joint surgeries. Joint replacement is most commonly performed on the hip and knee and has offered pain relief and functional recovery to patients for decades.  


Clinical Trials

The rheumatologists at Saint John’s Physician Partners have been integrally involved in the development of medications that treat inflammatory arthritis conditions for decades. They were involved in the clinical trials that led to the approval at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for medications that treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), ankylosing spondylitis (SpA), osteoarthritis, and other bone and skin conditions like osteoporosis and psoriasis advanced therapies, some of which are biologic treatments. 


Osteoarthritis Specialists

Orrin Troum, M.D. and Amro Elbalkhi, M.D. provide consultation, diagnosis, and treatment for rheumatic diseases including inflammatory arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis), scleroderma, myositis, gout, lupus, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis. The Medical Doctors of Saint Johns strive to provide world class care and a personalized treatment plan for all patients and their families.