An estimated 80% of adults age 55 and older show signs of having osteoarthritis on X-ray. However, only about 60% of these people experience symptoms related to this condition. This translates to about 240 million adults worldwide that deal with pain caused by osteoarthritis. With so many adults currently dealing with this pain, and so many adults at risk of developing osteoarthritis pain, what are the options for osteoarthritis?
Keep reading to learn more about osteoarthritis, the most common treatment options, and the orthobiologic options we use in our practice. We’ve seen patients get great results from orthobiologic treatment, and we believe that this should be an option that more patients are aware of.
An overview of osteoarthritis
This common condition is also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD) and is the most common form of arthritis, mostly affecting older adults. This condition typically develops over time, which is why it most commonly affects adults older than 55. Other possible causes include inflammation or injury to the affected joint, leading to the degradation of tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. This can cause pain, swelling, and deformity of the joint.
Osteoarthritis is typically categorized into two types: primary and secondary.
Primary osteoarthritis is the most common and primarily affects the fingers, thumbs, spine, hips, knees, and big toes. It is known as a heterogeneous disease, which means that it has many potential causes.
Secondary osteoarthritis usually occurs as a result of preexisting joint abnormalities such as:
- Injury or trauma resulting from repetition or overuse, like in sports
- Rheumatoid, psoriatic, or other inflammatory arthritis
- Genetic joint disorders
- Metabolic joint disorders
Part of what makes osteoarthritis so difficult to find relief from is the fact that once it is damaged or injured, the body is unable to grow new cartilage. When this happens, cartilage can lose its ability to reduce friction in the joints, reducing its ability to protect the joints from shock.
Non-orthobiologic treatment options
There are a few different ways that osteoarthritis is commonly treated, ranging from conservative to surgical treatment in severe cases.
Conservative options for osteoarthritis include exercise, hot and cold packs, weight loss (if the patient is overweight) to reduce stress on joints, diet changes to manage diabetes or cholesterol, supportive devices like shoe inserts, canes, or walkers, vitamins, supplements, medication, and physical therapy.
Medications that are usually recommended for osteoarthritis range from topical pain medications to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). While these options have been able to provide some patients with relief, this often is not long-lasting and there can be serious consequences for patients that take these medications regularly over a long period of time.
Physical, occupational, and exercise therapies may also be recommended for patients suffering from osteoarthritis pain. These therapies can be a great resource to help patients get some relief by strengthening their muscles, increasing flexibility, and reducing pain. Working with a therapist can also help patients learn how to perform daily tasks while protecting their affected joints. However, these are only options for living with or managing pain, not providing relief from it in a long-term way.
Finally, if none of these options are able to help a patient, doctors may recommend surgery. This is common when osteoarthritis reaches a particularly advanced stage. These surgical options can include realigning bones (osteotomy) or joint replacement. In an osteotomy, a surgeon will cut across the bone and remove or add bone to reduce stress on the affected joint by shifting body weight. Joint replacement aims to improve a patient’s mobility and function by replacing damaged joints with plastic and metal parts.
Unfortunately, these surgeries come with risks like infections, blood clots, complications from anesthesia, and more. In the case of joint replacement, the parts replacing joints may wear out, become loose, or simply need to be replaced at some point.
Available orthobiologic options for osteoarthritis
Orthobiologics are an excellent option for patients suffering from osteoarthritis pain. These treatments are designed to reduce inflammation, which is a major cause of osteoarthritis pain. These options may also be able to encourage the growth of new tissue in areas that are usually unable to do so. Arthritis often begins when cartilage becomes damaged and cartilage is unable to heal itself and grow new tissue because it has so few blood vessels. Orthobiologics are designed to assist healing and tissue growth in areas like these so that patients can experience lasting pain relief.
In addition to this, orthobiologic options are able to provide healing for a variety of conditions and injuries without the risk of complications caused by open surgery. They also allow patients to restore their mobility and get back to being active much sooner than open surgical procedures.
At the Center for Sports Medicine and Wellness, we offer the following orthobiologic options for osteoarthritis.
Alpha 2 Macroglobulin
Alpha 2 Macroglobulin is a treatment of concentrated platelets derived from a patient’s blood. This is a great option for treating joint pain because, in typical healing, the body’s initial response is to send platelets to the injured area. Platelets contain growth factors and other nutrients that allow new tissue to grow. In areas with few blood vessels where this response may need some help, the platelets from Alpha 2 Macroglobulin can boost healing and tissue growth, providing relief from pain.
Autologous Stem Cell Injections (ASCI)
Autologous Stem Cell Injections utilize a patient’s bone marrow or fat, which are rich sources of stem cells. Stem cells have the ability to become other types of cells, which means that they can be a source of renewable tissue for areas that have trouble healing naturally. Like Alpha 2 Macroglobulin, ASCI helps boost the natural healing process to make it possible for patients to experience relief from pain.
Bone Marrow Concentrate
Bone marrow concentrate is a treatment that utilizes a patient’s bone marrow to create a fluid that contains stem cells and platelets that are able to create new tissues like bone, cartilage, fat, and more. BMC can heal tissue when injected into damaged areas of the body, boosting the body’s healing process. In addition to this, BMC decreases inflammation, which helps in providing relief from osteoarthritis pain.
Learn More About Orthobiologic Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis in Glen Mills, PA
If you’re dealing with osteoarthritis pain that is impacting your quality of life, get the care you need to get back to optimal performance at the Center for Sports Medicine and Wellness. We would be happy to discuss your options for osteoarthritis with you.
We’re a team of experts in the most advanced orthobiologic and minimally invasive treatments for our patients. We understand that your top priority is recovering and returning to being active as quickly as possible. We’re proud to provide the most advanced options that allow our patients to restore their mobility without a lengthy recovery period.
If you’d like to learn more about our services or contact us to schedule a consultation, please call our office in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, at (610) 459-4200 or fill out our form. We welcome your inquiry and we look forward to helping you get back to the game of life!