Osteoarthritis Treatment in New Jersey

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic orthopedic disease that involves pain and inflammation of the joints. As the most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis is a degenerative, long-term condition that is characterized primarily by the destruction of cartilage and narrowing of the joint space.

Cartilage plays an important role in the body, serving as the flexible connective tissue that lines your joints. It both absorbs shock and helps facilitate movement; losing it can result in pain and a reduction in mobility.

Osteoarthritis commonly affects the hands, knees, spine, neck and hips, but can occur in any of the joints in the body, such as the base of the fingers, thumbs and toes. It can also lead to bone overgrowth and spur formation which can impede function and mobility. When OA progresses, the final stages of the disease are signified by the complete erosion of cartilage, causing a painful condition where the affected bones rub together at the joint.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 32.5 million adults who have been medically diagnosed with OA. Osteoarthritis symptoms become increasingly common in people as they age, but can also occur in young people as a result of injury or overuse.

What Are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis symptoms tend to develop slowly and increase with age. Common OA symptoms include:

  • Pain that becomes more pronounced with ongoing movement
  • Stiffness that occurs after periods of inactivity, such as upon awakening
  • Swelling and inflammation of the soft tissue surrounding the joint
  • Limited flexibility in the affected joint
  • Bone spurs that appear as hard lumps around the affected joint
  • Fatigue

Osteoarthritis can also have psychological impacts due to the limitations to mobility which can lead to social isolation.

What Are the Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis?

Although many people develop osteoarthritis with age, there are a number of factors that are associated with the increased chance of developing OA, particularly at a young age. They include:

  • Heredity. Although the exact inheritance patterns are unknown, the predisposition for osteoarthritis can be passed down in families.
  • Gender. Women are more likely to develop OA with age.
  • Trauma. Accidents and overexertion can lead to bone and joint injury, which makes individuals more susceptible to OA.
  • Obesity. Carrying extra weight increases the pressure on the bones and joints, which can make them more vulnerable to injury and disease.
  • Poor physical fitness. Lack of exercise and weight-bearing exercises can cause bones and joints to become weaker from inactivity.
  • Overuse. Individuals who overuse their joints, such as athletes, members of the military and those who have physically demanding careers put added pressure on their bones and joints, which contribute to wear and tear.

Diagnosing Osteoarthritis

The first signs of osteoarthritis may include stiffness or swelling in the hips, knees, fingers, elbows, wrists, feet or spine. As the disease progresses, the cartilage in the affected joints continues to wear down. This condition is often associated with pain and limitations in flexibility and range of motion.

Combined with a physical examination, osteoarthritis may be diagnosed through the following imaging technologies and tests:

  • X-ray. While cartilage cannot be seen on x-ray images, it allows your doctor to observe any narrowing between your bones and joints, as well as the degree of joint damage that has occurred. It may also rule out other forms of arthritis.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Through magnetic waves, this technology can show soft tissue inflammation, swelling and signs of cartilage degradation.

While blood tests cannot diagnose osteoarthritis, they may be performed to rule out different types of inflammatory arthritis.

Treatment for Osteoarthritis

As the largest health network in the state, award-winning RWJBarnabas Health is a trusted provider of orthopedic, arthritis and osteoarthritis treatment in New Jersey. With access to the latest technologies, our knowledgeable surgeons, physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses, physical therapists, care coordinators and medical professionals provide a variety of treatments and therapies that are beneficial to increasing joint function and minimizing the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

By improving mobility, we may empower our patients to resume their normal daily activities and live more active, fulfilling lives.

Some of the therapies and treatments offered at RWJBarnabas Health include:

  • Physical therapy including exercises to strengthen the body and improve range of motion
  • Therapeutic treatments such as deep heating and paraffin treatments
  • Assistance with adaptive equipment, such as walkers, to foster independence
  • Medications to reduce inflammation and manage pain
  • Injections and steroid cortisone to quiet inflammation or to lubricate the affected joints
  • Joint replacement surgery for advanced cases that do not respond to other treatments

Managing Osteoarthritis

Although osteoarthritis does not currently have a cure, it is manageable. When combined with medical intervention, many individuals are able to manage symptoms through a combination of:

  • Light exercise
  • Adequate sleep
  • Healthy lifestyle practices

Many find the following helpful as well:

  • Therapeutic rubs or creams
  • Massage
  • Anti-inflammatories or injections to manage pain

Do you have questions about osteoarthritis treatment? RWJBarnabas Health can help.

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Medical Specialty Services at Bayonne
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310 Route 34 South
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(973) 325-9100
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94 Old Short Hills Road
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(973) 322-5000
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300 Second Avenue
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(732) 222-5200
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Clara Maass Medical Center
1 Clara Maass Drive
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(973) 450-2000
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Community Medical Center
99 Highway 37 West
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(732) 557-8000
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Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
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355 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-2000
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RWJ University Hospital Rahway
865 Stone Street
Rahway, NJ 07065
(732) 381-4200
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RWJ University Hospital Somerset
110 Rehill Avenue
Somerville, NJ 08876
(908) 685-2200
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Trinitas Regional Medical Center – Williamson Street Campus
225 Williamson St
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(908) 994-5000
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Jersey City Medical Center's Ambulatory Care Center
395 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07304
(201) 915-2410
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RWJ University Hospital Hamilton
1 Hamilton Health Place
Hamilton, NJ 08690
(609) 586-7900
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Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place
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(732) 828-3000
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Jersey City Medical Center Outpatient Services at Colony Plaza
414 Grand Street
Suite 14
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 616-0470
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Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus
600 River Avenue
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(732) 363-1900
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The Family Health Center (FHC) at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
166 Lyons Avenue
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
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The Center for Ambulatory Surgery
1450 Route 22 West
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(888) 590-6849
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Short Hills Surgery Center
187 Millburn Avenue
Suite 102
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(973) 671-0555
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2 Executive Drive
Suite 102
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(201) 470-6977
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