Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of degenerative joint disease that becomes more prevalent as we age. Most common in folks 65 and older, OA typically springs up in the knees. In fact, 50 percent of adults will suffer from knee OA at some point in their lives, according to the Arthritis Foundation. For those suffering through it, chronic pain and bouts of immobility come with the territory.
The good news is that osteoarthritis doesn’t come without warnings. Knowing what to look for, and addressing the symptoms early on, is what will give you the best chance of avoiding joint damage. In the spirit of prevention, here’s a handy breakdown of the five stages of knee osteoarthritis.
This is the best case scenario as it pretty much describes normal knee function. According to Healthline, someone with Stage 0 OA has joints that are functioning as they should, and pain isn’t yet part of the equation.
Someone with Stage 1 knee osteoarthritis shows some signs of regular joint wear and tear. Everyday Health associates early-stage OA with slight thinning of the cartilage, which is what pads the joint. Regular exercise is usually suggested to help slow the course of osteoarthritis.
At this point, OA is considered to be in the mild stage. Symptoms, like pain and stiffness, are elevated and doctors can usually spot bone lump growth in an X-ray. According to Medical News Today, cartilage thinning will appear more noticeable, as well. Translation: there might be some damage, but the bones aren’t yet rubbing against each other. Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping up with regular exercise are recommended to stave off discomfort and pain.
By this time, the space between the bones is closing in. There’s also substantially more cartilage loss at this moderate phase of osteoarthritis. Everyday activities are likely to trigger pain and swelling as the bones rub together with greater intensity. Anti-inflammatory drugs usually come into the picture to ease the growing discomfort.
A healthy, normally functioning knee has gaps in between the bones to prevent them from grating against each other. By the time OA hits stage 4, this space has severely narrowed, resulting in friction and more intense pain. Protective cartilage is also severely damaged.
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While extreme cases may necessitate a total joint replacement, surgery is always considered a last resort. At Pain Stop North Phoenix, we tackle osteoarthritis head on using a variety of innovative, forward-thinking approaches. This includes physiotherapy, joint injections, chiropractic therapy, massage therapy and more. The goal? To relieve knee pain so patients can enjoy an active lifestyle that doesn’t revolve around OA.