Joint Pain Treatment in Midland, Odessa, & Permian Basin
Many people delay seeking treatment for joint pain for fear they will be told they need joint replacement surgery. If you suffer from persistent joint pain, you have treatment options. The providers at Urgent Orthopedic Specialists are dedicated to reducing your pain and restoring mobility to your joints. We will evaluate your specific case and discuss your options for treatment. If surgery is recommended, our joint replacement specialist will work with you to ensure the best possible outcome.
What Causes Joint Pain?
- Sprains and strains
- Fractures and other injuries
- Conditions like gout and bursitis
- Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis
- Post-traumatic arthritis (arthritis that develops following a joint injury)
Joint pain is very common and becomes an even more common occurrence as we age. If joint pain is slowing you down, schedule an appointment with an orthopedic specialist to find out what is causing your pain and discuss your treatment options.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Arthritis is a condition that causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It develops as the cartilage protecting the bones of a joint wears down over time. Over the years, as stress is put on the joints, cartilage wears thin and sometimes even erodes completely, resulting in stiffness and pain. It occurs more frequently in older individuals; however, it sometimes develops in athletes from overuse of a joint or after an injury. It commonly affects the fingers, knees, lower back and hips and is often treated with medication, injections, and certain forms of exercise and physical therapy. In severe cases, joint replacement surgery may be suggested. Osteoarthritis tends to get worse over time.
What are the symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
- Loss of flexibility
- Grating sensation or clicking sounds when joints are used
Why does my joint pain come and go?
If your joint pain comes and goes, it’s likely the reason behind your joint pain is osteoarthritis. Since osteoarthritis is due to wear and tear in the joints, pain is exacerbated when you are doing things: climbing stairs, walking, running, writing, cleaning, gardening, etc. When you sit down to rest or simply stop using the joint, the pain improves.
Osteoarthritis predominantly affects the weight-bearing joints, such as the knees and hips. It also affects the fingers. Unlike inflammatory arthritis, stiffness usually isn’t a predominant symptom. Pain usually arises due to use of the joint.
How is Osteoarthritis diagnosed?
- MRI scan
- Blood tests to screen for other diseases
- Analysis of fluid that lubricates the joint
What’s the difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is colloquially known as wear and tear arthritis. It’s simply the result of a lifetime of jumping, running, pulling, bending, and otherwise using your joints. Osteoarthritis is the degradation of the cartilage at the ends of your bones and in the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is completely different. It is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease. In rheumatoid arthritis, your body’s immune system attacks the joints, going after healthy cells by mistake. RA commonly affects joints in the hands, wrists, and knees. In the joint, the lining becomes inflamed, causing damage to the joint tissue. This damage can lead to chronic long-term pain, unsteadiness, and deformity.
Treatment Of Joint Pain and Osteoarthritis
Joint pain is commonly treated with a combination of methods:
- Anti-Inflammatory Medications
- Corticosteroid injections
- PRP Injections
- Stem Cell Injections
- Physical therapy
How effective is physical therapy for joint pain and osteoarthritis?
The goal of physical therapy for treating osteoarthritis joint pain is to strengthen the muscles around the joint, to stabilize the joint, and to improve your range of motion. Beyond stretching and strengthening, your physical therapist will usually include other techniques such as ultrasound, heat or cold therapy, electrical nerve stimulation, and manipulation of the joint.
Physical therapy can be very effective for some patients, but this varies widely by the patient. Effectiveness is often directly tied to the degradation of the cartilage in the joint.
Treatment for joint pain may vary, but the main goal is to reduce inflammation and pain. Most patients may try several different treatment options before finding a method that works best for their individual condition. Steroid injections are an advanced treatment option for patients with arthritis and other sources of joint pain, that have not responded well to other treatments such as exercise and oral medications. These injections deliver relief directly to the source of the pain and are considered safe for nearly all patients.
Are cortisone injections a safe treatment for joint pain?
The first course of treatment for osteoarthritis pain is usually oral or topical medications. If these aren’t providing adequate relief, Dr. Floyd and our team will likely move on to injections of corticosteroids, commonly known as cortisone. Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory medication, so once injected it calms the inflamed joint and eases pain. These are safe treatments, but cannot be given indefinitely, as they can cause some side effects if used too frequently.
How Do Cortisone Injections Work to Treat Joint Pain?
Most steroid injections provide immediate anti-inflammatory relief by being injected directly into the affected joint. These injections are an effective method of treatment to reduce the swelling of tendons and ease pressure on the nerve. A steroid medication such as cortisone, is injected directly into the inflamed area and works by minimizing the body’s reaction to inflammation. As the inflammation decreases, the pressure is relieved, therefore causing pain and discomfort to subside. As a result, patients experience a decrease in symptoms such as pain, swelling, numbness or stiffness. Symptoms may subside within a few days and the results of the injection may last for a few weeks or up to a few months.
Are cortisone injections painful?
Cortisone shots are a mix of corticosteroid and anesthetic. The anesthetic provides short-term pain relief in the joint until the corticosteroid can reduce inflammation. The skin at the area of your injections is topically numbed prior to your injection/injections. In some cases, to be sure we are injecting into the perfect spot, we may use x-ray guidance called fluoroscopy. You will feel some pressure as the needle is inserted, and there may be some burning as the cortisone is injected. But these are not painful treatments.
One thing to be aware of — cortisone shots commonly cause a temporary flare in pain and inflammation for up to 48 hours after the injection. This is temporary but can be a bit disconcerting when it happens. After those two days, your pain should be relieved as the inflammation is reduced. This relief can last for months.
What Our Patients Have to Say
“I have had both knees injected twice now from Stephen Dodd and have always been very pleased with the time he takes to answer my questions and make me feel more comfortable. The staff is very friendly and helpful as well!” -Linda H.
How often can you have cortisone injections?
Because there is a risk of damage to cartilage in the injected joint and to nearby tendons with overuse of cortisone injections, there is a limit to their use. At Urgent Orthopedic Specialists, we do not give cortisone injections more often than every six weeks, and patients should not receive more than four over a calendar year.
Are there side effects and risks with cortisone injections?
Potential side effects usually come into play with larger doses and repeated injections. The side effects of cortisone injections can include:
- Cartilage damage
- Death of nearby bone
- Joint infection
- Nerve damage
- Temporary facial flushing
- The temporary flare of pain and inflammation in the joint
- Temporary increase in blood sugar
- Tendon weakening or rupture
- Thinning of nearby bone (osteoporosis)
- Thinning of skin and soft tissue around the injection site
- Whitening or lightening of the skin around the injection site
When should I consider joint replacement surgery?
This is a completely personal decision, but at Urgent Orthopedic Specialists, we tell patients they need to consider how their chronic pain is impacting their day-to-day life. If simple normal activities, such as climbing the stairs or walking around the grocery store, become painful to the degree you avoid them then it’s time to consider joint replacement. Also, you need to weigh the things you have given up in your life. For instance, if you’ve always enjoyed hiking but have now given it up due to the pain, it could be time to consider joint replacement.
We generally advise our patients to weigh how their pain is changing their life for the worse.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
Contact Urgent Orthopedic Specialists to learn more about joint pain and replacement where we serve the Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, Stanton, Andrews, and every other small town in between!