Are you having hip or knee pain?
If you answered "Yes!" to that question, you are not alone!
According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 27 million Americans suffer from a form of arthritis called osteoarthritis which can cause pain in the weight-bearing joints, like hips and knees.
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis, where the cartilage that cushions your joints begins to wear down. Eventually, the bones can start to rub against each other and cause significant pain or stiffness.
What causes osteoarthritis?
Even though aging makes you more likely to develop osteoarthritis, the Arthritis Foundation lists some other factors that can also contribute.
Whether you were a star athlete in your youth or you’re a current Weekend Warrior, you've probably experienced pain and stiffness of an injury or just overuse of a joint, like twisting your knee or a tennis elbow. Over time, this can add to the breakdown of the cartilage around the joint. So can carrying around extra weight which can really add a lot of extra stress on your joints. Sometimes the muscles around the knee joints are just weak and underdeveloped which can make the cartilage begin to wear out. Then there are genetics. Everyone has unique DNA and sometimes the way your bones are formed can put you at greater risk for developing osteoarthritis.
Are you having these symptoms?
First thing you always need to do is to listen to your body. It’s trying to give you some clues that you should pay attention to if you are having any of these symptoms:
- Stiffness in the morning that lasts about 30 minutes and then goes away
- Joint pain that is worse at night
- Changes in the way you sit, stand or walk due to pain or stiffness
So what should you do?
Talk to your doctor about any joint pain symptoms you are having and make sure you know your family history. That, along with a physical examination, can be important factors in diagnosing your pain. Be proactive and don’t wait for it to “feel better” on its own.
Your primary care physician can take several steps to help determine what is really happening with your joints. This may include a simple X-ray to see if there is osteoarthritis or a bone density test to check the health of your bones and look for signs of osteoporosis (a loss of bone mass).
Once you have a proper diagnosis, your physician can work with you to develop a plan to relieve your pain and keep you active and enjoying your life. This may include physical therapy, exercise therapy, or a referral to an orthopedic surgeon.
Just because you are seeing an orthopedic surgeon, doesn’t mean that you will automatically be having surgery. Orthopedic surgeons are trained to evaluate and diagnosis your bone health issues and then offer you the procedures that would work best for your condition.