joint pain

Cold Weather and Joint Pain – Is it related?

The winter weather seems to have blown in quickly this year and ready or not, it’s time to bring out those cold weather clothes. Do you seem to feel more pain in the cold? Here are some reasons why that could be.

Does Cooler Weather Affect Your Joints?

Article written by: Carrie DeVries
Spine-Health.com

As we say goodbye to warm weather and look ahead to fall and winter, many people look forward to breaking out their sweaters, scarves, and boots. But if you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you may dread the colder weather, as cool days make joints stiff and achy.

Here are a few tips for those with RA—or any arthritis affected by temperature change—to cope with the cold.

Weather is a factor

Researchers have done multiple studies to uncover the link between weather and arthritis pain. Their findings have failed to turn up clinical proof of a connection. But patient experiences tell a different story.

A majority of those with rheumatoid arthritis report feeling differences in pain based on changes in temperature, humidity, or barometric pressure. According to one study, levels of pain for study subjects with RA were highest on cold, overcast days.1

Other types of arthritis can be affected too. Patients with osteoarthritis will report that swelling and warmth in their joints gets worse during weather changes.

Heat therapy helps joints

If the cold weather makes your pain worse, try adding heat therapy into your daily routine. This can decrease stiffness and promote healing through better circulation.

Here are four ways you can generate a little heat:

  1. Hold a hot pack, warm towel, or heating pad on the painful joint.Doing this for 20 minutes at a time can warm up the joint and provide temporary pain relief.
  1. Try using over-the-counter heat wraps or patches. These items are available in most pharmacies and can provide warmth for up to 8 hours.
  2. Take a dip. You may experience pain relief by swimming or doing water therapy in a heated pool a few times per week, or by soaking a whirlpool or hot bath.
  1. Get moving. It can be tempting to hibernate during cooler weather, but inactivity can actually increase your pain. Regular physical activity will keep joints warm and lubricated. If you prefer to stay inside, consider purchasing a treadmill so you can walk while you watch TV. Check with your physician before you start a new exercise routine.

Read more…

Reference:

  1. 1.      “Rheumatoid arthritis patients show weather sensitivity in daily life, but the relationship is not clinically significant.” Pain.1999 May;81(1-2):173-7

 

BRO-Logo-colorBlue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center has on-site state-of-the-art technology to diagnosis and treat orthopaedic conditions. Both of our offices are equipped with in-office radiology departments. Not only does this facilitate rapid diagnosis but it is also convenient for patients who may be experiencing pain or disability at the time of their visit. To schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified and fellowship trained physicians, call our Warrenton office at 540-347-9220 or our Gainesville office at 703-743-2814.

 

Osteoarthritis causes and treatments

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OSTEOARTHRITIS


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people around the world. Often called wear-and-tear arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time.

While osteoarthritis can damage any joint in your body, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, neck, lower back, knees and hips.

Osteoarthritis gradually worsens with time, and no cure exists. But osteoarthritis treatments can slow the progression of the disease, relieve pain and improve joint function.

Symptoms

Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain. Your joint may hurt during or after movement.
  • Tenderness. Your joint may feel tender when you apply light pressure to it.
  • Stiffness. Joint stiffness may be most noticeable when you wake up in the morning or after a period of inactivity.
  • Loss of flexibility. You may not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion.
  • Grating sensation. You may hear or feel a grating sensation when you use the joint.
  • Bone spurs. These extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, may form around the affected joint.

When to see a doctor

If you have joint pain or stiffness that lasts for more than a few weeks, make an appointment with your doctor.

Causes

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in your joints deteriorates over time. Cartilage is a firm, slippery tissue that permits nearly frictionless joint motion. In osteoarthritis, the slick surface of the cartilage becomes rough. Eventually, if the cartilage wears down completely, you may be left with bone rubbing on bone.

Risk factors

Factors that increase your risk of osteoarthritis include:

  • Older age. The risk of osteoarthritis increases with age.
  • Sex. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis, though it isn’t clear why.
  • Bone deformities. Some people are born with malformed joints or defective cartilage, which can increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Joint injuries. Injuries, such as those that occur when playing sports or from an accident, may increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Obesity. Carrying more body weight puts added stress on your weight-bearing joints, such as your knees.
  • Certain occupations. If your job includes tasks that place repetitive stress on a particular joint, that joint may eventually develop osteoarthritis.
  • Other diseases. Having diabetes, underactive thyroid, gout or Paget’s disease of bone can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis.

 

Complications

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that worsens over time. Joint pain and stiffness may become severe enough to make daily tasks difficult. Some people are no longer able to work. When joint pain is this severe, doctors may suggest joint replacement surgery.

 

Preparing for your appointment

While you may initially bring your concerns to your family doctor, he or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in joint disorders (rheumatologist) or orthopedic surgery.

What you can do

You may want to write a list that includes:

  • Detailed descriptions of your symptoms
  • Information about medical problems you’ve had
  • Information about the medical problems of your parents or siblings
  • All the medications and dietary supplements you take
  • Questions you want to ask the doctor

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor may ask some of the following questions:

  • When did your joint pain begin?
  • Is the pain continuous, or does it come and go?
  • Do any particular activities make the pain better or worse?
  • Have you ever injured this joint?

Tests and diagnosis

During the physical exam, your doctor will closely examine your affected joint, checking for tenderness, swelling or redness. He or she will also check the joint’s range of motion. Your doctor may also recommend imaging and lab tests.

Imaging tests

Pictures of the affected joint can be obtained during imaging tests. Examples include:

  • X-rays. Cartilage doesn’t show up on X-ray images, but the loss of cartilage is revealed by a narrowing of the space between the bones in your joint. An X-ray may also show bone spurs around a joint. Many people have X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis before they experience any symptoms.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of bone and soft tissues, including cartilage. This can be helpful in determining what exactly is causing your pain.

Lab tests

Analyzing your blood or joint fluid can help pinpoint the diagnosis.

  • Blood tests. Blood tests may help rule out other causes of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Joint fluid analysis. Your doctor may use a needle to draw fluid out of the affected joint. Examining and testing the fluid from your joint can determine if there’s inflammation and if your pain is caused by gout or an infection.

Treatments and drugs

There’s no known cure for osteoarthritis, but treatments can help to reduce pain and maintain joint movement.

Medications

Osteoarthritis symptoms can be relieved by a variety of medications, including:

  • Acetaminophen. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can relieve pain, but it doesn’t reduce inflammation. It has been shown to be effective for people with osteoarthritis who have mild to moderate pain. Taking more than the recommended dosage of acetaminophen can cause liver damage.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs may reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen (Aleve, others). Stronger NSAIDs are available by prescription. NSAIDs can cause stomach upset, ringing in your ears, cardiovascular problems, bleeding problems, and liver and kidney damage. Older people have the highest risk of complications.
  • Narcotics. These types of prescription medication typically contain ingredients similar to codeine and may provide relief from more severe osteoarthritis pain. These stronger medications carry a risk of dependence, though that risk is thought to be small in people who have severe pain. Side effects may include nausea, constipation and sleepiness.

Therapy

A combination approach to treatment often works best. Your doctor may suggest:

  • Physical therapy. A physical therapist can work with you to create an individualized exercise regimen that will strengthen the muscles around your joint, increase the range of motion in your joint and reduce your pain.
  • Occupational therapy. An occupational therapist can help you discover ways to do everyday tasks or do your job without putting extra stress on your already painful joint. For instance, a toothbrush with a large grip could make brushing your teeth easier if you have finger osteoarthritis. A bench in your shower could help relieve the pain of standing if you have knee osteoarthritis.
  • Braces or shoe inserts. Consider trying splints, braces, shoe inserts or other medical devices that can help reduce your pain. These devices can immobilize or support your joint to help you keep pressure off it.
  • A chronic pain class. The Arthritis Foundation and some medical centers have classes for people with osteoarthritis and chronic pain. Ask your doctor about classes in your area or check with the Arthritis Foundation. These classes teach skills that help you manage your osteoarthritis pain. And you’ll meet other people with osteoarthritis and learn their tips and tricks for reducing and coping with joint pain.

Surgical and other procedures

If conservative treatments don’t help, you may want to consider procedures such as:

  • Cortisone shots. Injections of corticosteroid medications may relieve pain in your joint. During this procedure your doctor numbs the area around your joint, then places a needle into the space within your joint and injects medication. The number of cortisone shots you can receive each year is limited, because the medication can worsen joint damage over time.
  • Lubrication injections. Injections of hyaluronic acid derivatives (Hyalgan, Synvisc) may offer pain relief by providing some cushioning in your knee. These agents are similar to a component normally found in your joint fluid.
  • Realigning bones. During a surgical procedure called an osteotomy, the surgeon cuts across the bone either above or below the knee to realign the leg. Osteotomy can reduce knee pain by shifting your body weight away from the worn-out part of your knee.
  • Joint replacement. In joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty), your surgeon removes your damaged joint surfaces and replaces them with plastic and metal devices called prostheses. The hip and knee joints are the most commonly replaced joints. Surgical risks include infections and blood clots. Artificial joints can wear out or come loose and may need to eventually be replaced.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Lifestyle changes and home treatments also can help reduce osteoarthritis symptoms. You might want to try some of the following tips:

  • Rest. If you’re experiencing pain or inflammation in your joint, rest it for 12 to 24 hours. Find activities that don’t require you to use your joint repetitively.
  • Exercise. Exercise can increase your endurance and strengthen the muscles around your joint, making your joint more stable. Stick to gentle exercises, such as walking, biking or swimming. If you feel new joint pain, stop. New pain that lasts for hours after you exercise probably means you’ve overdone it.
  • Lose weight. Being overweight or obese increases the stress on your weight-bearing joints, such as your knees and your hips. Even a small amount of weight loss can relieve some pressure and reduce your pain. Talk to your doctor about healthy ways to lose weight. Most people combine changes in their diet with increased exercise.
  • Use heat and cold to manage pain. Both heat and cold can relieve pain in your joint. Heat also relieves stiffness, and cold can relieve muscle spasms and pain.
  • Apply over-the-counter pain creams. Creams and gels available at drugstores may provide temporary relief from osteoarthritis pain. Some creams numb the pain by creating a hot or cool sensation. Other creams contain medications, such as aspirin-like compounds, that are absorbed into your skin. Pain creams work best on joints that are close to the surface of your skin, such as your knees and fingers.
  • Use assistive devices. Assistive devices can make it easier to go about your day without stressing your painful joint. A cane may take weight off your knee or hip as you walk. Carry the cane in the hand opposite the leg that hurts. Gripping and grabbing tools may make it easier to work in the kitchen if you have osteoarthritis in your fingers. Your doctor or occupational therapist may have ideas about what sorts of assistive devices may be helpful to you. Catalogs and medical supply stores also may be places to look for ideas.

Alternative medicine

People who aren’t helped by medications for osteoarthritis pain sometimes turn to complementary and alternative medicine practices for relief. Common treatments that have shown some promise for osteoarthritis include:

  • Acupuncture. Some studies indicate that acupuncture can relieve pain and improve function in people who have knee osteoarthritis. During acupuncture, hair-thin needles are inserted into your skin at precise spots on your body. Risks include infection, bruising and some pain where needles are inserted into your skin.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin. Studies have been mixed on these nutritional supplements. A few have found benefits for people with osteoarthritis, while most indicate that these supplements work no better than placebo. Don’t use glucosamine if you’re allergic to shellfish. Glucosamine and chondroitin may interact with blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) and cause bleeding problems.
  • Tai chi and yoga. These movement therapies involve gentle exercises and stretches combined with deep breathing. Many people use these therapies to reduce stress in their lives, though small studies have found that tai chi and yoga may reduce osteoarthritis pain. When led by a knowledgeable instructor, these therapies are safe. Avoid moves that cause pain in your joints.

Coping and support

Medications and other treatments are key to managing pain and disability, but another major component to treatment is your own outlook on life. Your ability to cope despite pain and disability caused by osteoarthritis often determines how much of an impact osteoarthritis will have on your everyday life. Talk to your doctor if you’re feeling frustrated. He or she may have ideas about how to cope or refer you to someone who can help.

Content courtesy of the Mayo Clinic Staff at the Mayo Clinic:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoarthritis/basics/definition/con-20014749

BRO-Logo-color      joint-right

Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center has on-site state-of-the-art technology to diagnosis and treat orthopaedic conditions. For your convenience, both of our offices are equipped with in-office radiology departments. Not only does this facilitate rapid diagnosis but it is also convenient for patients who may be experiencing pain or disability at the time of their visit. To schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified and fellowship trained physicians, call our Warrenton  office at (540-347-9220) or our Gainesville office at (703-743-2814). Or Click here to make an appointment.

 

Repetitive actions can lead to injury.

 

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What is a tendon injury?
Tendons are the tough fibers that connect muscle to bone. Most tendon injuries occur near joints, such as the shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle. A tendon injury may seem to happen suddenly, but usually it is the result of many tiny tears to the tendon that have happened over time.

Doctors may use different terms to describe a tendon injury. You may hear:
Tendinitis. This actually means “inflammation of the tendon,” but inflammation is rarely the cause of tendon pain.
Tendinosis. This refers to tiny tears in the tissue in and around the tendon caused by overuse.

Most experts now use the term tendinopathy to include both inflammation and microtears. But many doctors may still use the term tendinitis to describe a tendon injury.

What causes a tendon injury?

Most tendon injuries are the result of gradual wear and tear to the tendon from overuse or aging. Anyone can have a tendon injury. But people who make the same motions over and over in their jobs, sports, or daily activities are more likely to damage a tendon.

A tendon injury can happen suddenly or little by little. You are more likely to have a sudden injury if the tendon has been weakened over time.

What are the symptoms?
Tendinopathy usually causes pain, stiffness, and loss of strength in the affected area.

  • The pain may get worse when you use the tendon.
  • You may have more pain and stiffness during the night or when you get up in the morning.
  • The area may be tender, red, warm, or swollen if there is inflammation.
  • You may notice a crunchy sound or feeling when you use the tendon.

The symptoms of a tendon injury can be a lot like those caused by bursitis.

How is a tendon injury diagnosed?
To diagnose a tendon injury, a doctor will ask questions about your past health and your symptoms and will do a physical exam. If the injury is related to your use of a tool or sports equipment, the doctor may ask you to show how you use it.

If your symptoms are severe or do not improve with treatment, your doctor may want you to have a test, such as an X-ray, ultrasound, or MRI.

How is it treated?
In most cases, you can treat a tendon injury at home. To get the best results, start these steps right away:

  •  Rest the painful area, and avoid any activity that makes the pain worse.
  • Apply ice or cold packs for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, as often as 2 times an hour, for the first 72 hours. Keep using ice as long as it helps.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen or naproxen) if you need them.
  • Do gentle range-of-motion exercises and stretching to prevent stiffness.

As soon as you are better, you can return to your activity, but take it easy for a while. Don’t start at the same level as before your injury. Build back to your previous level slowly, and stop if it hurts. Warm up before you exercise, and do some gentle stretching afterward. After the activity, apply ice to prevent pain and swelling.

If these steps don’t help, your doctor may suggest physical therapy. If the injury is severe or long-lasting, your doctor may have you use a splint, brace, or cast to hold the tendon still.

It may take weeks or months for a tendon injury to heal. Be patient, and stay with your treatment. If you start using the injured tendon too soon, it can lead to more damage.

To keep from hurting your tendon again, you may need to make some long-term changes to your activities.

Try changing your activities or how you do them. For example, if running caused the injury, try swimming some days. If the way you use a tool is the problem, try switching hands or changing your grip.

  • If exercise caused the problem, take lessons or ask a trainer or pro to check your technique.
  • If your job caused the tendon injury, ask your human resource department if there are other ways to do your job.
  • Always take time to warm up before and stretch after you exercise.

 

Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center has on-site state-of-the-art technology to diagnosis and treat orthopaedic conditions.  For your convenience, both our Warrenton and Gainesville offices are equipped with in-office radiology departments.  Not only does this facilitate rapid diagnosis but it’s also convenient for patients who may be experiencing pain or disability at the time of their visit.

To schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified/ fellowship trained physicians, call our Warrenton office at 540.347.9220, or our
Gainesville office at 703.743.2814, or, click here to make an appointment.  Don’t forget to visit us at www.broava.com for a complete list of all comprehensive musculoskeletal services offered at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center.

What is a Joint Dislocation?

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Dislocations can happen to almost any joint (the place where your bones come together), and are most common in the shoulder, knee, hip, elbow, and the finger.  Dislocated elbows occur most often in children.  Most dislocations result from trauma, such as a blow or fall but, some can happen during normal activities such as throwing a ball.

Normally, bones glide smoothly within your joints, allowing a wide range of motion.  But a bone can be pushed or pulled out of position.  This is known as a dislocation.   Dislocation prevents normal joint movement and can be very painful.  Prompt treatment is crucial.  A dislocation needs emergency care.  Injuries that aren’t treated promptly take longer to heal and may result in lasting damage to the joint.  Seek medical help right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Have severe pain in a joint
  • Can’t move the joint normally/immobility
  • Can see the misplaced bone
  • Have numbness or tingling
  • Have a break in the skin over the painful joint

What to Expect – Treatment

  • You may be given pain medication to make you more comfortable
  • The joint will be examined and an x-ray may be taken to check for fractures or other injuries
  • The joint is put back into place
  • A dislocated finger or elbow may be splinted to keep it from moving while it heals.  An injured shoulder may be placed in a sling.

The treatment of sports-related injuries is more specialized and sophisticated than ever before, and all of us at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center pride ourselves on providing the most advanced care available.  Anyone who maintains an active lifestyle, from student athletes to weekend warriors, can benefit from advances in the diagnosis and treatment of sports injuries.

To schedule an appointment with our sports medicine specialists, please call 540.347.9220 (Warrenton office) or 703.743.2814 (Gainesville office) and be sure to visit our website @ www.broava.com for a complete listing of comprehensive services offered by Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center

Swimming to Relieve Joint Pain

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Finding low-impact exercises to do is extremely important if you struggle with joint injuries. Low-impact exercise is also the best way to prevent future injuries from developing. By far, the best of these low-impact exercises is swimming.

Why swimming is great for you and your joints:

Swimming lets you exercise longer without excess muscle strain.

  • An average swim session burns about 500 calories an hour, while a vigorous effort can torch almost 700. And because water is nearly 800 times denser than air, each kick, push, and pull is like a mini resistance workout for your entire body – especially your core, hips, arms and shoulders.
  • Swimming works to build lean muscle, which improves your metabolism.
  • And most importantly, water takes pressure off of your joints, making swimming a viable workout for anyone, even those with injuries, including arthritis and joint weakness.

When you’re busy and temperatures drop below freezing it’s easy to put off exercise until tomorrow, however, sticking to a regular fitness schedule during the winter months is essential. Exercising has been proven to give you more energy, which can help you crawl out of your warm and cozy bed on cold, dark mornings. Exercising can also improve your mood by releasing “happy” hormones into your brain, cheering you up, and making you feel more relaxed. Next time you want to get some good exercise, skip the treadmill and head down to the Warrenton Aquatic and Recreational Facility (WARF).

To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please call 540.347.9220 (Warrenton location) or 703.743.2814 (Gainesville location). For more information on the comprehensive services offered by Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center, visit www.broava.com.