Osteoarthritis is the most commonly diagnosed type of joint arthritis disease, which can affect hands, knees and hips. Knee arthritis is known to affect joint functionality causing knee pain and even leading to disability as it progresses.
How to Know What Stage Is Your Arthritis?
Osteoarthritis is divided into 4 stages which signify the progress of the disease in our body. Stage 0 is a normal healthy knee and the highest stage 4 causes severe pain andhampers the joint movement significantly, as it is the most advanced stage in osteoarthritis.
What Is Stage 0 – 1 of Arthritis and How to Treat Each Stage?
Stage 0 – Normal
This stage in osteoarthritis is classified as Normal since there is no sign of the disease or pain in the joints.
No treatment is needed in this stage.
Stage 1 – Minor
In this stage a person shows very minor bone spur growth. Bone spurs are bony growths that develop in the joint where bones meet. A person will usually not have any pain or discomfort in this stage as it is very minor and does not effect the joint.
No outward symptoms so doctors will not recommend any osteoarthritis treatment. However, if the doctor sees a risk because of genetics or your health, you may be recommended to start an exercise routine and some supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin to relieve any minor symptoms and slow the progress of osteoarthritis.
What Is Stage 2 of Arthritis and How to Treat This Stage?
Stage 2 – Mild
This is knownas the mild stage in osteoarthritis. X-ray shows a lot of bone spur growth in the joints but the cartilage is still healthy with no sign of damage. Synovial fluid is still present at sufficient levels for normal joint movement. Normally in this stage people start experiencing symptoms like pain after walking, running, stiffness in joints when not used for a long time or tenderness while kneeling and bending.
If your doctor can detect the disease at this early stage you may be able to stop the progress of Osteoarthritis. There are several therapies to help with the pain and discomfort and none of them require you to take medicines. If you are overweight, then diet and exercises will help in losing weight and giving relief in the symptoms. Low impact aerobics strengthens the muscles around the joint, increases stability and prevents additional joint damage. Never exert your joints avoid kneeling, jumping and squatting. Braces, wraps, shoe inserts help relieve some of the pressure on the joints. Some people could require medication for mild pain. These are usually used along with exercise therapies like NSAIDs, acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain relief. Exercises, weight loss and keeping the stress away from the joints will always help in any stage of osteoarthritis. Long term use of medicines may cause other health problems like NSAIDs cause stomach ulcers, cardiovascular problems, kidney and liver damage. Acetaminophen causes liver damage.
What Is Stage 3 of Arthritis and How to Treat This Stage?
Stage 3 – Moderate
This is known as moderate osteoarthritis. Cartilage between bones show obvious damage and the space between the bones begins to narrow. People in this stage experience pain while walking, running, bending and kneeling, stiff joints when you have been in one position for a long time and joint swelling after extended periods of motion.
If non-medical therapy does not provide relief anymore then your doctor may recommend cortisone injections. These are steroids which are naturally produced in our body and help relieve the pain in the impacted joint. The injections work in the same wayby giving relief to the joint from the pain caused by osteoarthritis. Effects of cortisone injection wears off after two months. Long term use of cortisone steroid can worsen the joint causing damage to the cartilage. If NSAIDs and acetaminophen are not effective for pain relief anymore then prescription medication like codeine and oxycodone can help with the treatment of moderate to severe pain that occurs in stage 3 of osteoarthritis. Conservative treatments for osteoarthritis like physical therapy, weight loss, use of NSAIDs and analgesics are not effective anymore then you can try Viscosupplementation. These are intra-articular injections of hyaluronic acid. A typical treatment requires one to five injections given one week apart. Even single dose injections are available. Results of viscosupplementation injections are not immediate as they take several weeks for the full effect to be felt. Relief from this medication lasts for a few months. Everyone does not respond to viscosupplementation.
What Is Stage 4 of Arthritis and How to Treat This Stage?
Stage 4 – Severe
This is considered as the most severe stage of osteoarthritis as there is great pain and discomfort while walking or any movement of the joint. This is due to the dramatically reduced joint space between bones, cartilage is almost or completely gone leaving the joint stiff and immobile, the synovial fluid present in the joint between the bones to cushion the friction between the moving parts of the joint is nearly gone.
Osteotomy – bone realignment surgery where the doctor cuts the bone above and below the knee to shorten, lengthen or change the alignment. This is an option for cases with severe osteoarthritis as surgery shifts the body weight away from the joint that is severely damage. This operation is usually done on younger patients. The last option is total knee replacement – arthoplasty for patients suffering from severe osteoarthritis pain. The doctor removes the damaged joint totally and replaces it with a plastic or metal device. The side effects include infections and blood clots. Recovery takes several weeks or months and requires extensive physical and occupational therapy. The main possibility is of this operation is this may not be the end to osteoarthritis pain, you may require more surgery in other joints or even a knee replacement again depending on your lifetime.
- Consult your doctor first before starting anything new, either Supplements or Exercises
- Make quick decisions as the more you delay it will only worsen the situation
- Eat healthy and Be healthy