Living with Arthritis

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Senior trying to open jar

“Some days brushing my hair is just too painful…” “I wish I were able to tie my grandson’s shoes…” “I can’t climb the stairs into my church, so I don’t go much anymore…”

I’ve heard these complaints and more from patients who suffer from arthritis. Everyday tasks like these that most of us take for granted can cause them great pain.

Osteoarthritis is the normal wear and tear of a joint. As we age, the articular cartilage, which is the shiny, very smooth surface that covers the ends of the bones in a joint, starts to wear down. As the articular cartilage wears down, raw bone is exposed causing arthritic changes to the joint.

This can cause pain and inflammation. Osteoarthritis can be the result of normal wear and tear as we age, our genes or a previous injury.

How to Cope

Making a few changes to your daily activity level is the best way to maintain your health without worsening the arthritis or the pain that accompanies it. Low-impact exercises such as swimming, biking and working out on an elliptical machine are all good options. Just make sure to avoid any high-impact exercises, like running, jumping rope or aerobics.

Treatment Options

Many treatment options exist to decrease the inflammation and overall symptoms of arthritis. Over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or aspirin are usually the first line of defense.

If these options do not work, other possibilities include steroid injections to the joint itself or joint lubrication fluid injections, which help to lubricate the joint and also have an anti-inflammatory effect. Steroid injections can be given once every three months, whereas joint lubrication fluid injections are given once every six months.

Many people have also found relief through physical therapy, which can help to strengthen the muscles around the joint and alleviate pain.

If all of these options fail and you are still in pain, the last option is joint replacement surgery. Joint replacement surgeries are done by removing the diseased cartilage and capping the ends of the bone to create a new joint surface. These joint replacements have a normal lifespan of 10 to 15 years and can greatly improve a patient’s quality of life.

About Dr. Easton

RobertWEastonMD Robert W. Easton, MD received his Bachelor of Science from Louisiana State University and his Doctor of Medicine from Louisiana State University School of Medicine. He completed his residency at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and his Fellowship in adult reconstruction surgery at The Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH. He is Board Certified by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Dr. Easton has privileges and sees patients at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. Click here for more information.
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