Arthritis Treatment in Seattle, WA
Arthritis is a debilitating disease that causes pain, inflammation, and stiffness of the joints. Arthritis affects millions of Americans, and makes routine movements difficult. The condition can present itself in a number of different forms; however, the most common form is osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition also known as "wear-and-tear arthritis". The condition causes a significant reduction in health-related quality of life, and can keep patients from enjoying the activities they love.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative ("wear-and-tear") condition, most commonly affecting the hips and knees. These joints bear the body's weight and experience stress under routine motions, such as walking, playing sports, or shoveling snow.
Soft, flexible tissue known as cartilage lines the hip and knee joints to protect against wear-and-tear; however, as cartilage deteriorates over time, movement becomes more painful and harmful to bones. As the stress associated with carrying the body's weight wears away at the protective cartilage, patients may experience joint stiffness, pain, and limited range of motion.
Causes of Arthritis
There are a number of risk factors associated with osteoarthritis, with two of the most significant being age and weight. As patients age, protective cartilage becomes brittle and less flexible. This can lead to joint damage through routine activities. Likewise, heavier patients are at greater risk of developing osteoarthritis, as carrying excess weight places more stress on a patient's joints. With increased stress, cartilage can tear, causing pain, joint stiffness, and eventual bone deterioration.
Prior joint injuries can also contribute to the development of osteoarthritis over time. Because cartilage lacks proper blood flow, the tissue heals very slowly. This slow rehabilitation can lead to subsequent injuries, and also advance arthritis damage to the bone, as the cartilage less adequately protects the joint.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis can be managed through nonsurgical treatments, such as physical therapy, rehabilitation, and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These approaches focus on strengthening the surrounding muscles to alleviate the amount of stress placed on the joint, and also alleviating pain through medication. Conservative approaches may be sufficient for patients in the early stages of arthritis; however, severe cases may require joint replacement.
Joint Replacement for Arthritis Patients in Seattle, WA
Total joint replacement has been performed in the United States since the 1960s, and since its introduction, it has become one of the safest and most commonly performed procedures. Total joint replacement involves removal of an arthritic joint and replacement with a prosthetic implant, typically made of metal, ceramics, and plastic. Joint replacement is most common in the hips and knees, as these joints are most susceptible to natural degeneration; however, shoulder replacement is also fairly common, as the joint is frequently injured due to its unstable nature.
Before pursuing a treatment option, it is best to consult an orthopedic surgeon who can best diagnose arthritis conditions. Dr. James W. Pritchett is one of Seattle's leading orthopedic surgeons, and has successfully treated thousands of patients suffering from osteoarthritis and many other musculoskeletal problems. Schedule an appointment today at his offices in the Cabrini Medical Tower in Downtown Seattle, or at his Kirkland, WA location at the Evergreen Surgery & Physician Center.
Last Modified: July 30, 2014