Effective Treatment for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis—so common, in fact, that millions of people all over the world suffer from it. It can cause pain, stiffness, and loss of function in any part of the body, but its most common targets are joints located in the fingers, hands, knees, hips, and spine. It is a degenerative disease that becomes increasingly debilitating over time. Gregg A. Vagner, M.D. is a trusted, experienced orthopedic surgeon serving patients throughout the Austin, TX, area. Dr. Vagner specializes in injuries and other conditions of the hand, wrist, and elbow and is superbly qualified to treat patients suffering from osteoarthritis.

Understanding Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage, which cushions and protects the ends of bones, wears with age. This causes the bones in a joint to rub or grind together, causing pain and stiffness. The condition cannot be reversed or cured, but it can be managed with proper treatment.

Illustration of osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis results when the soft, protective cartilage between joints deteriorates. 

Risk Factors

Osteoarthritis is typically seen in older patients and is more common in women than men. It is also more likely to occur in patients who put undue stress on one or more joints. This could include overweight individuals, those whose work or hobbies cause overuse of a joint, and patients who have suffered joint injuries. Genetically or congenitally predisposed patients are also at higher risk.

Symptoms of the Condition

Osteoarthritis is characterized by pain and stiffness around a joint, accompanied by decreased flexibility and function. In severe cases, patients may also detect a grating sensation when moving the joint. The joint may also take on a swollen appearance. This effect is caused by both inflammation and the formation of bone spurs near the joint. As the condition worsens over time, patients may become affected to the point where they can no longer comfortably perform daily tasks on their own.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Dr. Vagner can use various methods to diagnose osteoarthritis in his patients. He will carefully review their medical history and then thoroughly examine the affected joint or joints, specifically checking for stiffness, pain, redness, and swelling. He may also order radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to better visualize the internal aspects of the joint. If necessary, he may also obtain lab tests to rule out other conditions, and he may elect to analyze fluid extracted from inside the joint to assess the degree of inflammation.

Since osteoarthritis is an irreversible condition, treatment is aimed at managing symptoms and restoring comfort.

Once Dr. Vagner has established a diagnosis, he will determine the course of action he feels is most appropriate, beginning with conservative methods. He will then formulate a treatment plan, which he will discuss with the patient.

Since osteoarthritis is an irreversible condition, treatment is aimed at managing symptoms and retaining an independent lifestyle. This can include the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy, yoga, or other types of gentle exercise to increase joint mobility and improve patient comfort. In more severe cases, Dr. Vagner may recommend cortisone or lubricating injections or surgical intervention, such as joint replacement.

Protect Your Active Lifestyle

If you have persistently stiff and sore joints that are not improving, contact us to schedule a consultation at one of his offices.

Gregg A. Vagner, M.D.

Gregg A. Vagner, M.D.

Dr. Gregg A. Vagner is a double board-certified surgeon specializing in hand, wrist, and elbow injuries. With three locations in greater Austin, TX, Dr. Vagner provides conservative care for:

To request an appointment with Dr. Vagner, please contact us online or call (512) 454-4561.

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