Wednesday, November 5, 2014


By: Dr. Ryan Cordry, DO, MBA Orthopaedic Surgery at Medical West

For just about everyone, our body is our main mode of transportation. Whether if you are physically active exercising several times a week, if you walk to work, or just going back and forth from the kitchen to the couch - it takes your body moving to get there. And that involves all those bones inside rotating around, rubbing on each other, and stabilizing your body. Your joints are where all this happens.

I want to bring to your attention a common disorder called osteoarthritis (OA). It develops from aging and prolonged or extreme activity on a joint. It typically appears in the hips, knees, shoulders, and spine - all places that bear weight and stress.

First, know that OA is a normal occurrence of aging, and the symptoms usually begin showing up around middle age. And if you are 70 years old or older - I would be pretty positive that you are showing at least some symptoms of OA. Also people who have a family history, are obese, or have suffered trauma also see increased risk of OA.

What are symptoms of OA?

1) Pain in the joints. Especially after exercise or when putting weight/pressure on the joint.

2) Stiffness in your joints, and they have become difficult to move. Perhaps you could begin noticing rubbing, cracking, or scraping sounds when you move the joint.

3) "Morning Stiffness" - for almost 30 minutes after you wake up, all those joints are stiff and you have difficulty or pain getting around. After some activity, it goes away. (You've 'warmed up' the joint.)

4) Joint pain wakes you up at night. While OA is a normal occurrence as we age, it is possible to both expedite the onset of OA and to reduce the effects of OA. And you guessed it - it has a lot to do with your lifestyle choices.

Offsetting OA:

1) I mentioned above about how your body is your main mode of transportation. Some of us have bigger bodies than others. And some of us have bodies that are too big for our personal frames. Preventing obesity will help prevent osteoarthritis. Which makes sense, right? The less inactive weight you carry around with you is still pressing down on those joints. The ratio goes at 1 lb of body weight = 5 lbs on the hip/knee joints.

2) Exercising. Some light impact exercises such as cycling, swimming, elliptical machines, and walking can decrease stress on your joints. (Remember, at its core, it's the joint stress that causes OA.)

3) You can control the symptoms of OA by keeping the arthritic joint mobile and strengthen the muscle around it. Give that hurting joint a little bit of help - it will probably reward you with less pain. For OA treatment, it's best to discuss with your personal doctor. They can help you best get a plan that works you individually.

OA Treatments Include:

1) Ice/heat the afflicted area

2) Compression

3) Just resting the joint

4) Changing your activities (do a different exercise, stop going down to the paint and banging around during your church league basketball game…)

5) Braces can assist with joint relief and provide stability

6) Medications can be prescribed

7) Physical therapy

8) Injections

9) Surgery. Joint replacement is an option for severe cases.

For just about all of us, OA is something we are going to have to deal with at some point. But do what you can in order to lessen the effects of it. Staying healthy, avoiding excess weight, and making smart decisions when it comes to your activities can help you live a more pain-free life.

Take Care, Dr. Cordry

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