Relieving Throbbing Joint Pain

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FLORIDA —

BACKGROUND:  Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis.  It affects an estimated 27 million Americans.  Most people over the age of 60 have it to some degree, but its severity varies.  However, people in their 20s and 30s can get osteoarthritis.  In people over 50, more women than men have osteoarthritis.  It is associated with the breakdown of cartilage in joints and can occur in almost any joint in the body.  It occurs more often in the weight bearing joints of the hips, knees, and spine.  It can also affect the thumb, fingers, neck, and large toe.  Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage in a joint to become stiff and lose its elasticity, making it more susceptible to damage.  (Source: www.webmd.com)

SYMPTOMS/RISK FACTORS: Symptoms of osteoarthritis most often develops gradually and includes: 

·        Pain after overuse or after long periods of inactivity

·        Stiffness after periods of rest

·        Bony enlargements in the middle and end joints of the fingers

·        Joint aching and soreness, especially with movement

·        Joint swelling

There are several factors that increase a person’s chances of having osteoarthritis.  They include heredity, obesity, injury, other diseases, and joint overuse.  (Source: www.webmd.com) 

TREATMENT:  The condition is usually treated with a number of treatments including weight loss, medications, physical therapy with muscle strengthening exercises, hot and cold compresses to the painful joint, removal of joint fluid, exercise, injection of medications to the joint, and use of supportive devices like canes or crutches.  Surgery is also helpful to relieve pain when other treatment options have not been effective.  The type of treatment depends on several different circumstances, like age, activities, overall health, occupation, medical history, location of disease, and severity of osteoarthritis.  (Source: www.webmd.com)

NEW TECHNOLOGY:  Researchers at Emory Sports Medicine Center are using stem cells to relieve joint pain.  The two places in the body with an abundance of stem cells are the bone marrow (BMAC) and the adipose tissue (fat cells).  These are the two places the doctor may choose to harvest to help treat joint pain or chronic tendon pain.  Stem cells harness the healing power of a patient’s own blood and works to actually repair the damaged tissue.  They are isolated from a small sample of a patient’s own bone marrow or fat cells and inject them directly into the damaged area.  Emory physicians also use Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP), which assists in the repair process.  Each patient’s treatment plan varies, but the typical patient requires one stem cell injection and a follow-up injection of PRP four to six weeks after the first injection.  Since the cells come from the patient, there is not a chance of their body rejecting it.  At the injection site, there is a very small risk of infection and a chance that some bruising will occur.  (Source:  http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/sports-medicine/pdf/emoryorthostemcell.pdf)