The 4 Stages of Osteoarthritis

Posted on July 1st, 2016 by Orthopaedic Specialty Group

Doctor Examining Male Patient With Knee Pain

Osteoarthritis is the most commonly diagnosed type of arthritic joint disease. It is so common, that doctors now say 1 in 2 people will develop some type of symptomatic OA (osteoarthritis) at some point during their lifetime.

It is a joint related issue, so it can affect the hips, hands, or shoulders, but it is most commonly found in the knees. Fortunately, OA has become increasingly more treatable, especially when diagnosed during the early stages.

Let’s take a look at the four stages of OA and some appropriate treatments during each stage…

Stage 1 – Minor

This is the least severe stage of OA. Patients in stage 1 will develop minor wear-and-tear in their joints, but typically feel little to no pain in the affected area. If you have no history of OA, a doctor will most likely leave your symptoms untreated, but they may advise you take supplements or change up your exercise routine.

Stage 2 – Mild

This is when X-rays will start to show more noticeable bone spur growths (growths that often develop where bones meet each other in the joint). The affected area will start to feel stiff after long, sedentary periods, and will become uncomfortable. Your doctor might suggest a stricter workout routine or a fitted brace to wear.

Stage 3 – Moderate

In stage 3, the cartilage in the affected area starts to erode and narrow the gap between bone and joint. The joint becomes inflamed and starts causing discomfort during normal daily activity. Some treatments include over the counter pain medications, prescription pain relievers, and in severe cases, hyaluronic injections.

Stage 4 – Severe

This is the most severe stage of OA, which means it is also the most painful. At this point, the cartilage is almost completely gone, leading to an inflammatory response from the joint. The bone spurs that developed in the earlier stages have now multiplied, often causing excruciating pain. There are various treatment options that generally include bone realignment surgery and knee/hip replacement.

If you live in Fairfield County and suffer from osteoarthritis, help is available from the medical professionals at Orthopaedic Specialty Group. As the largest and most experienced orthopedic practice in southern Connecticut, we have the knowledge and experience needed to relieve your pain. Visit our website for more information, or call (203) 337-2600 to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed therapists.