Osteoarthritis, also simply known as OA, is a potentially debilitating condition caused by wear and tear on the joints. Unlike other forms of arthritis brought on by everything from autoimmune conditions to excessive uric acid buildup, osteoarthritis is brought on by daily stress to the joints. This stress eventually causes the cartilage that cushions joints to wear down, leaving bone to grind on bone.
Factors that exacerbate OA include excessive weight, certain medical conditions, and failure to seek treatment before the condition advances. Too often, people brush off symptoms of osteoarthritis as a natural occurrence of an active lifestyle or very physical occupations. But that is exactly what osteoarthritis can be, and it still requires attention.
If you think you could be one of the more than 25 million Americans who suffer from osteoarthritis, here are some symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.
Moving furniture, carrying your laptop bag on your shoulder, or lifting boxes are seemingly simple activities that can leave you feeling sore and needing a massage or warm bath. But if you have pain in your joints that has persisted for a long period of time and seems to be getting worse – especially with physical activity – there is a good chance you may have osteoarthritis.
Notice if the pain continues even after resting or avoiding activities. If the pain persists, it's a good idea to see a doctor. Before doing any diagnostic exams, your doctor will want to know when and where the pain occurs, if it's triggered by certain activities and then subsides, or if your pain is chronic.
When joint pain or tenderness is accompanied by swelling, redness, or warmth, it could be a symptom of osteoarthritis. You may have joint effusion, which is very common with osteoarthritis. Joint effusion is abnormal swelling and inflammation of the joints caused by water or fluid buildup in or around the joints.
If you find yourself experiencing fever, chills, or weakness, see your orthopedist immediately. Joint effusion associated with osteoarthritis can result in progressive weakening of muscles.
Grating, Popping, and Clicking
Do your joints sound like a symphony of percussive instruments? Those grinding, crunching sounds actually have a medical name – crepitus – which is Latin for “cracking and rattling.” If there is no pain, the normal kind of crepitus is simply the release of gases in joint fluid.
But crepitus associated with pain is a symptom of osteoarthritis that occurs when protective cartilage in the joint wears down and joint surfaces grind against each other. This can make the joints more vulnerable to damage and infection, causing more pain for you. When your painful joints start to creak, it’s best not to turn a deaf ear; report your concerns to your orthopedist.
Damage You Can See
Have you noticed bony growth on your hands or feet where there had been none before? While unsightly and likely not painful, they may be indicative of osteoarthritis starting to affect your joints. Monitor them for any changes or if there is pain.
Decreasing Range of Motion
All of the previous symptoms, combined with a decreasing range of motion in your joints, signal that you may have osteoarthritis. For example, if your joints feel warm or are inflamed, and you are hearing clicking every time you walk up the stairs, see your orthopedist. Without medical attention, your decreasing range of motion could impact your health and quality of life.
Orthopedic Care in Ohio
Everyone deserves to live without pain, but when pain does occur and continues to impact your life, you should not ignore the symptoms. Our board-certified orthopedic physicians at Spectrum Orthopaedics in North Canton are experts at diagnosing and treating all forms of arthritis and every other kind of orthopedic concern you may have.
No matter your condition, we will work with you to create an effective treatment plan. We offer non-surgical methods of treatment for most cases of arthritis. Call us today at (330) 305-0838 to make an appointment, or use our appointment request form. We look forward to caring for all your orthopedic needs.