Osteoarthritis is a type of degenerative joint disease that most commonly affects the joints in your hands, knees, and hips. It can also occur in the joints of your neck, lower back, fingers, and toes. Arthritis refers to any type of inflammation in the joints, but osteoarthritis is a specific type of arthritis that occurs when the cartilage in your joints begins to break down. Cartilage acts as a protective tissue separating the bones in your joints and once it begins to break down, bones can rub against one another, causing significant pain and discomfort and leaving you in need of osteoarthritis treatment.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is a chronic joint condition. It is sometimes more generally known as “wear and tear arthritis.” As you age, cartilage can break down in your joints and they can become painful and swollen, making movement difficult. This type of degenerative joint disease tends to start off with mild symptoms that gradually worsen over time. At Alan Nathans Family Chiropractic, we use state-of-the-art diagnostic tools to help diagnose osteoarthritis, determine the severity of the degeneration, and use non-surgical interventions like soft wave therapy to provide you with pain relief and help you experience greater comfort and mobility.
A combination of a physical exam, diagnostic imaging tests, and lab tests can help determine a diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, you can begin exploring options for osteoarthritis treatment.
In a physical examination, your doctor will assess any joints where you are experiencing pain and discomfort. They will look for signs of tenderness or redness around the joint area and identify any areas of swelling and inflammation. Your doctor will also test the range of motion in your joints to determine if you are losing flexibility due to the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Diagnostic Imaging Tests
In order to get a clear image of the affected joints, your doctor may recommend diagnostic imaging tests like an X-ray or MRI. An X-ray provides your doctor with images of how the bones in your joints may be affected, including the space in between the bones of your joints. However, cartilage does not show up on an X-ray, so your doctor may want to use an MRI to get more detailed images of the bones and soft tissues in and around the joints, allowing them to measure the amount of damage to your cartilage and the rest of the joint.
Ruling Out Other Diagnoses
There are a number of lab tests that can help confirm a diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Blood tests are not able to look specifically for osteoarthritis, but they can be used to rule out other illnesses or diseases that may be causing you pain. A doctor may also want to do a joint fluid analysis, where they draw some fluid from your joints to test for signs of inflammation and to help rule out other potential diagnoses. This helps pinpoint the precise form of osteoarthritis treatment that will be best for you.
Treating Osteoarthritis with Soft Wave Therapy
Soon after diagnosis or when symptoms are minor, osteoarthritis treatment may include over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen or NSAIDs to provide temporary pain relief. However, these medication options can come with side effects and will only temporarily relieve your bone on bone knee pain. They are also not considered long-term solutions. Chiropractic care for osteoarthritis is a drug-free, natural way to manage pain and increase your flexibility. A chiropractor may use gentle techniques and recommend stretches and exercises to help strengthen the muscles that support your joint. However, once your osteoarthritis advances to a moderate or severe case, it may require more a more significant osteoarthritis treatment option like soft wave therapy.
Understanding Soft Wave Therapy
Soft wave therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that helps reduce pain and promote healing for those who suffer from osteoarthritis. This is a nonsurgical intervention that sends shock waves into injured soft tissues, like the cartilage in your joints, which encourages a healing response in your body. Your body will actually develop brand new blood vessels which increases the flow of nutrients to the area, helping to restore healthy functioning to the joints.
This type of regenerative medicine offered at Alan Nathans Family Chiropractic is referred to as “The Stem Cell Machine” and is a cutting-edge treatment program that increases stem cells and grows new blood vessels. This type of treatment is drug-free and has a minimal recovery period, especially compared to surgical options that require long recoveries and can also come with serious side effects. Instead, The Stem Cell Machine treatment only lasts around ten minutes and you may only need 3-5 treatments before you start experiencing healing and pain relief.
Benefits of Soft Wave Therapy for Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis can cause pain that may seriously affect your ability to complete daily tasks. Soft wave therapy uses sound waves to reduce inflammation and trigger immune responses, which then encourages your body to send healing agents to your joints. Since deteriorating cartilage in your joints is what leads to osteoarthritis problems, these sound waves are sent through the area to help promote better blood flow. Enhancing the circulation in your joints provides relief for pain and stiffness in the area. This type of osteoarthritis treatment is fast, non-invasive, does not use any anesthesia or medications, and has far fewer side effects or complications than other, more invasive treatment options.
In addition to managing your osteoarthritis pain with soft wave therapy, your doctor can talk to you about ways to manage your osteoarthritis at home. There are many lifestyle recommendations that can help reduce your pain and discomfort, so you should talk with your doctor about which of these would be most beneficial for you.
Low-impact activities like walking, swimming, and yoga are all gentle types of exercises that will help strengthen your muscles and help you to develop more endurance. When the muscles that support your joints are weak, they are unable to help provide the necessary support. Develop and strengthen the muscles that support your joints to help keep the area more stable and healthy with these types of low-intensity workouts.
Carrying extra weight can put more stress on many weight-bearing joints, especially your hips and knees, which can bring about osteoarthritis pain. Losing weight can help to relieve some pressure on your knee and hip joints, which can help reduce pain. Talk to your doctor about healthy and manageable alterations to your diet and activity levels to help you lose weight.
Hot and Cold Therapies
Alternating temperatures can help to reduce swelling and soothe painful joints, making it an excellent at-home osteoarthritis treatment. Applying warm compresses, a heating pad, or even soaking in a warm bath can all help your muscles relax, causing you to release stiff muscles and tension. Alternating with cold therapy like applying cold compresses to your affected joints can help soothe muscle aches and reduce swelling in the area.
You may find that some assistive devices help take the pressure off your joints and temporarily ease your pain. Whether you need braces, shoe inserts, or a cane, these can all provide additional assistance and support when you are standing or walking. Those who struggle with osteoarthritis in the hands or fingers may find gripping and grabbing tools helpful.
Osteoarthritis Treatment with Alan Nathans Family Chiropractic
While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are many ways to successfully manage your joint pain and restore mobility so you can begin to enjoy your routines and activities again. At Alan Nathans Family Chiropractic, learn more about how you can experience pain relief and increased flexibility with our clinically proven, safe, and effective forms of treatment. The team at Alan Nathans Family Chiropractic is here to help you live life to the fullest and not let your osteoarthritis get in your way.