You may notice a stiffness or loss of mobility in your knees, hips or spine at first. The stiffness is usually worse when you first wake up and will slowly improve as the day goes on. Or you may feel tenderness and experience swelling in your smaller joints, like the fingers or at the base of your thumb. The beginning of advanced joint degeneration can be experienced as an annoyance at first but can quickly progress to debilitating joint pain and loss of function.
While joint degeneration typically affects older people, younger people can also suffer from this painful and often devastating condition. As an orthopedic specialist in Los Angeles, not only can Dr. Daniel C. Allison help determine whether you have advanced joint degeneration but he can also offer the latest treatment options available to help you reduce joint pain and maintain your quality of life.
What is Advanced Joint Degeneration?
Our joints are important structures responsible for providing both movement and stability. Joint degeneration refers to the deterioration that can occur in our joints through a number of issues including normal wear and tear, injury, and degenerative joint conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, osteoarthritis, post-traumatic arthritis, and avascular necrosis. Once a joint starts to degenerate, you may experience joint pain, swelling, as well as limitations in range of motion and functional movement.
The 4 Common Causes of Joint Pain
Osteoarthritis (OA) is considered a “wear and tear” disease and the most common type of advanced joint degeneration. People with osteoarthritis typically sustain cartilage damage in several joints such as the knees, hips, ankles, and feet. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage that provides protective cushioning between the joints slowly breaks down. This breakdown causes joint pain, inflammation, stiffness, and difficulty with everyday movements.
There is no specific cause for this degenerative joint condition, however, several factors can increase a person’s risk of developing OA including excess weight, trauma or injury, joint overuse, and genes.
Inflammatory arthritis refers to a group of autoimmune conditions that cause inflammation in the joints and tissues in the body. These conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, lupus, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.
Symptoms of inflammatory arthritis are not localized to the damaged joint as many patients may also experience fever, weakness, and organ damage in addition to the stiffness and pain in their joints. The most common type of inflammatory arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, which currently affects between 1 and 2 million Americans. The causes of inflammatory arthritis are generally unknown, however, it is believed that genetics play a large role in whether or not an individual develops this advanced joint degeneration condition.
Post-traumatic arthritis is a subcategory of osteoarthritis, but this form of arthritis develops after a trauma or injury to a joint(s). The most common symptoms include joint pain and instability, inflammation, reduced range of motion, bone spurs, and possible joint deformity. Because this type of advanced joint degeneration is caused by outside factors, people of all ages can suffer from post-traumatic arthritis.
Avascular necrosis, also known “osteonecrosis,” is a condition characterized by poor blood supply within specific areas of the body, which leads to cellular loss of bone tissue. This can lead to damage and pain in the adjacent joint. Avascular necrosis begins with an interruption of blood supply to certain areas in the body. This can be caused by either traumatic injury to an affected bone (such as a fracture and dislocation), steroid medication usage or excessive alcohol consumption.
Treatments for advanced joint degeneration will depend on the condition as well as the severity of the joint damage combined with individual factors like age, overall health, and current mobility.
Treating Advanced Joint Degeneration
In cases where joint damage is severe, surgical joint replacement is the best choice to improve joint pain and restore function. Dr. Allison is a renowned leader in pediatric and adult hip replacements not only in Los Angeles but also nationwide. Depending on the patient and circumstances, Dr. Allison will perform the direct anterior approach to joint replacement, which is a minimally invasive technique that has the best outcomes for both reduction in joint pain and restoration in daily function. In an anterior hip replacement, the muscles and nerve tissue are pushed aside rather than dissected. This greatly reduces damage to the tissues and has a faster recovery and improved long-term outcome. Read more about joint replacement procedures at niams.nih.gov.
Not all patients with advanced joint degeneration will need a joint replacement. Preventative measures can be adopted to avoid the need for surgical intervention. The conservative alternatives to hip replacement include:
- Lifestyle changes such as weight loss with a healthy diet
- Physical activity such as regular exercise to help you maintain and develop your muscles in order to relieve pressure on your joints
- Wearing braces or sleeves to support the joints in everyday movement
- Taking multi-vitamins and supplements
- Physical therapy to help improve functional movement and reduce joint pain
Contact a Joint Specialist in Los Angeles Today
If you are experiencing joint pain and think you have advanced joint degeneration, contact Dr. Daniel C. Allison in Los Angeles today at (310) 730-8008 to schedule a consultation for a diagnosis and treatment plan. With early treatment and prevention, it’s possible to regain pain-free function in your everyday activities.