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May 15 2014

Do you experience joint pain and stiffness? You may be one of the more than 27 million Americans affected by osteoarthritis.

This type of arthritis is a degenerative one, typically caused by wear and tear on the joints, says rheumatologist Melanie Chatterji, M.D., of Carroll Arthritis.

The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases with age, says Dr. Chatterji, as does if a person has a history of trauma or stress on the joints, such as a runner who experiences knee problems.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis can include joint pain and stiffness after periods of inactivity and a restricted range of motion; symptoms of osteoarthritis in the hand include pain, weakness and the inability to grasp.

Family history can play a role in whether you develop osteoarthritis; if your parents had it, it is more likely you will develop it as well, she says. You may also be more at risk if you have an occupation or hobby that involves repetitive motions.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, one of the best ways to treat osteoarthritis is to stay active. “Sometimes, when you have pain, you don’t want to use that joint,” Dr. Chatterji explains. “But you don’t want to risk losing that joint mobility and function.”

Strengthening the muscles around the joints provides greater stability; people with knee pain would want to work on their thigh muscles and quadriceps. For back pain, core strengthening of the back and abdominal muscles could help.

The first line of treatment for osteoarthritis pain includes Tylenol® or anti-inflammatory pain relievers. Topical ointments and creams can also help with the symptoms.

Above all, says Dr. Chatterji, there are ways to manage osteoarthritis. “Don’t let it stop you from being active,” she says.

Please consult your doctor if you think you have osteoarthritis. If you are in need of a primary care provider, please call Care Connect for a free physician referral at 410-871-7000, or search our online physician directory.



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