El Paso Center for Family & Sports Medicine
Angel J. Garcia, MD
Sports Medicine & Aesthetic Specialist located in El Paso, TX
Many Americans experience chronic joint pain that is likely caused by osteoarthritis, one of the most common adult conditions leading to a trip to the doctor. Angel J. Garcia, MD, at El Paso Center for Family & Sports Medicine in El Paso, Texas, treats many patients with osteoarthritis, helping to ease their pain and restore mobility to aching joints. Call or book an appointment online with Dr. Garcia today.
Osteoarthritis Management Q & A
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage between bones wears down over time, resulting in bone-on-bone contact. Dr. Garcia can detect osteoarthritis with X-rays, as the area between the bones in the joint is closer together than normal, or might be gone entirely.
What are effective medical treatments for managing osteoarthritis?
There are a variety of options for treating osteoarthritis, including:
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as Aleve help relieve pain, but patients should not take either one for long periods of time without any breaks. Long-term use can cause organ damage and other side effects.
Dr. Garcia may suggest prescription drugs, but they should not be taken for years at a time.
Physical and occupational therapy
A physical therapist can provide a jump-start to an effective exercise program to help strengthen muscles around the painful joint. The therapy may include massage, electrical nerve stimulation, or ultrasound to reduce inflammation and help restore mobility.
An occupational therapist helps develop alternatives to motions that have become difficult. For example, a split computer keyboard can help tremendously for arthritis in the wrist or fingers, and improved posture helps relieve arthritis in the neck and back.
Cortisone shots usually help relieve painful joints. Dr. Garcia numbs the area and injects the cortisone into the space between the bones in the joint. He can give patients three or four shots per year. Any more than that can damage bones.
Surgery is a last resort but is sometimes necessary if, for example, there is no cartilage left in the knee. Dr. Garcia refers patients to an orthopedic surgeon if surgery needs to be considered. If a patient is a candidate for it, partial joint replacements are becoming very popular; they are less invasive and require less recovery time than full joint replacements.
What are effective at-home treatments when managing osteoarthritis?
Lifestyle changes and at-home remedies can help relieve pain, including:
- Exercise: strengthens muscles around joints, increasing stability
- Weight loss: critical to reducing stress on knees and hips; even a small amount of weight loss helps relieve pain
- Ice and heat: relieves stiff joints, muscle spasms, and pain
- Capsaicin and over-the-counter pain creams: works on joints close to the skin such as knees and fingers
- Orthotics: takes the pressure off joints when standing or walking
- Braces: knee, elbow, or hand braces support the joint, making motion easier
- Assistive devices such as canes and walkers: help take pressure off painful joints
Call or book an appointment online with Dr. Garcia today for help managing osteoarthritis.