Osteoarthritis Complications: When Osteoarthritis Brings Complications
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition that breaks down the cartilage between your bones at the joints, allowing them to become inflamed, painful and difficult to move. Unfortunately, osteoarthritis complications can arise from the way your body responds to the inflammation and the treatment itself.
You will need to work closely with several doctors to monitor your treatment, and it will ultimately your decision how you want to proceed after learning the pros and cons of any suggested course of action. Your doctors may not always be aware of the different medications and treatments you’re trying, so be sure to communicate as well as you can with them during your visits.
Osteoarthritis and Bone Spurs Complications
Your body doesn’t like inflammation any more than you do. My rheumatologist told me that “itis” is Latin for inflammation, so any type of arthritis causes some degree of inflammation. Even though osteoarthritis is not known for widespread inflammation, you can still have symptoms that respond to anti-inflammatory medications and treatments.
For example, your body is aware that cartilage is deteriorating and it wants to help you, so it creates bone spurs. Bone spurs are little extra bumps of bone that grow in response to compensate for what you are losing. You may have bone spurs and feel no symptoms at all, or they might be responsible for significant pain and loss of motion in the joints.
The three biggest locations where bone spurs cause the most trouble are the in knees, spine, and hips. The pain can be difficult to pinpoint because it radiates.
For example, you can have a bone spur pressing against your spine that sends the pain to the hips instead. Working closely with an orthopedic specialist and a pain management specialist will help determine where the pain is coming from.
Osteoarthritis Anti-Inflammatory Medication Complications
Taking medication to ease osteoarthritis symptoms is a double-edged sword. Doctors have a variety of prescription drugs that can really ease the daily pain and stiffness of living with OA.
That being said, it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects if you are trying a course of treatment, and it’s super important to be monitored regularly while taking them.
- Anti-inflammatory medications can cause a rise in blood pressure. Some medications work better with your body than others, so it’s usually possible for your doctor to try a different kind if you run into this problem. You may be asked to monitor your blood pressure regularly at home to ensure it doesn’t get out of control.
- Medications that are successful in treating inflammation can cause stomach irritation. If you are taking anti-inflammatory medications, take them as directed with food, take the lowest dose possible, and take breaks from the treatment as often as you can. Be sure to let your prescribing doctor know if you start having symptoms of stomach discomfort.
- If stomach irritation occurs, you may see a decline in vitamin absorption. Seeing your primary doctor or rheumatologist regularly will ensure they screen for vitamin levels. If there is a drop, you can take supplements to help replace the missing nutrients.
Osteoarthritis Complications With Natural Remedies
There are numerous natural ways to seek relief from daily painful symptoms. While these treatments don’t fall under the prescription medication category, there are some things you want to watch out for when trying alternative medicine.
- Even if it is a natural vitamin supplement, it can still interact with any prescription or non-prescription medication you are taking. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist to avoid any unexpected side effects.
- Acupuncture has been shown to relieve pain, stiffness and help improve anxiety from chronic pain. While typically low risk with virtually no side effects, you still want to make sure you are being treated by a trained professional. Do some online research for credentials and reviews, or ask for recommendations.
- Massage is beneficial for pain and stress relief, and there are massage therapists that specialize in treatments for sufferers of chronic pain associated with arthritis. Many people find these treatments therapeutic. While there are no harmful side effects, you’ll still want to get recommendations and not work with someone unfamiliar with arthritis.
The Benefits vs. the Risks of Osteoarthritis Treatment
Treating osteoarthritis is an ongoing, often frustrating experience. For every treatment possibility, there are potential side effects that can start to outweigh the benefits.
Since osteoarthritis only does damage to cartilage and not other parts of the body, all treatments are focused on treating pain and stiffness. There is currently no medication available to slow the progression of this disease.
Try to remember that most treatments may not work indefinitely and that changing treatments when needed can provide needed improvements for your symptoms. Keeping track of your medications, symptoms, and reactions can provide your doctors with much-needed information to help guide their treatment decisions.
Small lifestyle changes and modifications to your daily routine can have a big impact in managing your symptoms. Living with chronic pain is exhausting, and it’s not always easy to decide how to proceed with treatment. Treat yourself gently, and try to work with at least one or two people that can provide useful feedback for you.
Power in Numbers
Connecting with other people that live with osteoarthritis can give you the emotional support you need. If you start to feel overwhelmed, reach out online or in local support groups for people with chronic pain conditions. You may find it helpful to share your experience with others and gain some new insights for yourself.