Why is arthritis painful?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the “wear and tear” kind, also known as “degenerative joint disease” or DJD. It is a complex disease with varied symptoms: pain, stiffness, swelling, and activity limitation. To tackle it effectively you’ll need different treatments for different symptoms as your symptoms change over time.
Would you be surprised to learn that joint cartilage has no nerve endings? The actual fraying, cracking and wear that happens to arthritic cartilage is not the source of your pain. Instead, OA symptoms happen because:
An unstable arthritic joint strains the ligaments and muscles that support it. Inflammation within these soft tissues is painful.
The soft tissues around your joints shrink and stiffen without proper exercise. This explains why it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning, or up from a chair after sitting a while. These shrunken, stiff, irritated ligaments are strained by daily activities; it becomes easy to “over-do” it.
Although osteoarthritis is often called “wear and tear” arthritis, do not be afraid that physical activity will wear you out. On the contrary, joints are designed for motion, and motion helps circulation nourish your joints. Resilient, flexible muscles and ligaments are effective stabilizers, especially for joints that are damaged from arthritis. If you don’t exercise, your muscles get smaller and weaker, and your bones can become more brittle and likely to break. Enhance your endurance, strength and flexibility through exercise, and reverse the downward spiral.
Dr. Siegrist specializes in treating patients with osteoarthritis, and optimizes a wide range of treatments to buy time until you’re ready for joint replacement surgery.
She has chosen not to do joint replacements as part of her practice since 2002. When you’re ready for knee, hip or shoulder replacement, we’ll refer you to a colleague who can do this for you.
Dr. Siegrist wants you to take an active role in your care. She has written Know Your Bones: Making Sense of Arthritis Medicine to help patients understand the WHAT and WHY of joint pain, so you’ll realize HOW different medicines work, WHEN to take them, and WHICH is right for you. Printed in Rochester, the book is available through the office or www.wmebooks.com.