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Osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) can cause pain and stiffness in your hands, knees, hips, or any other joint in the body. It appears when the cartilage that cushions your joints is injured or wears away over time.
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of pain among adults, but you don't have to live with it.
University of Iowa Health Care specialists in orthopedics are experts in the most advanced ways to diagnose and treat osteoarthritis.
They'll work with you to make a personalized plan for relieving your pain and getting you back to the activities you enjoy.
Osteoarthritis symptoms and diagnosis
Early diagnosis and treatment of osteoarthritis can keep it from getting worse. You should be checked for arthritis if you have any of the following symptoms:
Pain in joints
Swelling or tenderness around joints
Joints feel like they are sticking or locking
Painful creaking or grinding noises from the joint
Decreased range of motion
Nighttime joint pain that keeps you awake
How UI Health Care experts diagnose osteoarthritis
When you see a UI Health Care specialist, they'll discuss your symptoms and examine the areas where you're feeling pain.
They might also order imaging tests, such as:
X-rays, that show whether you've lost cartilage between the bones in a joint
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which may be used if your provider needs detailed images that show the state of your cartilage
Osteoarthritis treatment from UI Health Care
The goal of treating your osteoarthritis is to relieve your pain and restore your mobility and function.
Everyone has different symptoms, needs, and goals, so we work with you to make a personalized care plan.
Nonsurgical treatment for pain relief and mobility
Most people can find relief from arthritis pain and stiffness with a combination of nonsurgical treatments. Your provider might recommend one or more of the following:
Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers are the first line of treatment. In some cases, steroid injections can relieve inflammation and pain.
Heat or ice
A heating pad or warm bath can help loosen muscles; an ice pack can reduce joint pain.
Physical and/or occupational therapy
Strength and stretching exercises can help relieve pain and stiffness. UI Health Care physical therapists include board-certified providers in orthopedic, sports, and hand therapy who specialize in osteoarthritis.
UI Health Care's regenerative medicine experts treat mild to moderate arthritis symptoms with injections of your body's own cells. We offer the most advanced options, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and microfragmented adipose tissue (MFAT).
Being overweight can make osteoarthritis worse. If losing weight would help you, UI Health Care weight management specialists offer the full range of behavioral, medical, and surgical options.
As academic medicine specialists, UI Health Care researchers are investigating new ways to prevent and treat arthritis. You may be eligible for new treatments not available elsewhere.
Surgical treatment for severe osteoarthritis
If you have advanced osteoarthritis and nonsurgical treatments haven't helped, surgery may be your best option.
Arthroscopy: This is a minimally invasive procedure. Your surgeon will insert a tiny camera, called an arthroscope, into your joint through a small incision. They can see damaged cartilage and clean it up using tiny instruments.
Joint replacement surgery: These procedures remove a painful joint and replace it with an implant. Knee replacement and hip replacement are the most common joint replacement surgeries.
Cartilage restoration: UI Health Care orthopedic surgeons can repair or replace damaged cartilage using a variety of methods. This approach is used mainly in active people under age 55.
Osteotomy: A surgery to reshape bone, an osteotomy can be an option for younger patients with osteoarthritis in the knee or hip.