Osteoarthritis of the Knee and Hip
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of more than 100 kinds of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease or “wear
and tear” arthritis, affects more than 20 million Americans and
is more common as we age. Osteoarthritis results when the protective cushion
of cartilage covering the ends of the bones breaks down and wears away,
causing irritation, stiffness and pain.
Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but is most common in the hands, spine,
and especially the large weight-bearing joints— the knees and hips.
What causes osteoarthritis?
In most cases, the exact cause of osteoarthritis is unknown, and is referred
to as “primary osteoarthritis.” Primary osteoarthritis is
related to aging and wear and tear. With aging, the water content of the
cartilage increases, while its protein structure deteriorates. The cartilage
may then become flaky and covered with tiny cracks. In advanced cases,
the entire cushion of cartilage is lost, resulting in painful bone-onbone contact.
When the cause of osteoarthritis is known, it is called “secondary
osteoarthritis.” Conditions and diseases that can lead to secondary
osteoarthritis, include obesity, trauma, diabetes, gout and congenital
How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?
There is no blood test for osteoarthritis. However, blood tests may be
ordered to rule out some of the conditions that may cause secondary osteoarthritis
or the other types of arthritis that mimic osteoarthritis symptoms. Once
other problems are ruled out, a simple X-ray and an examination by an
orthopedic specialist will confirm the diagnosis of osteoarthritis and,
more importantly, its severity. If osteoarthritis is in a weight-bearing
joint (hip or knee), the X-rays will show a narrowing of the space between
the joint, confirming the loss of protective cartilage.
How is osteoarthritis treated?
While there are no cures for arthritis, the past few years have seen dramatic
new ways to manage the pain, lack of mobility, and fatigue that are among
its most disabling symptoms. Specific treatment for osteoarthritis will
be by you and your doctor. Whatever course you decide, the goals of treatment are to reduce joint
pain and stiffness, and improve joint movement. Treatment may include:
Exercise – Frequent stretching and strengthening exercises may help reduce
the symptoms and pain associated
Diet – While there is no evidence that any particular foods can relieve
arthritis symptoms, every extra pound you carry puts added stress on your
knees and hips. Staying at a healthy weight can prevent or reduce thesymptoms
Heat Therapy – Heat applied directly to the painful joint can sometimes reduce
pain and stiffness.
Medications – There are a large number of medications to help reduce the pain
and inflammation of osteoarthritis. Most commonly used medications are
analgesics (pain relievers), such as acetaminophen, and non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS), such as aspirin, ibuprofen and
naproxen. It is important to talk to your doctor to discuss which medication
may be best for you.
Cortisone Injections – Injections of cortisone mixed with an anesthetic directly into
the joint can often reduce pain and restore function, sometimes for months
at a time. Cortisone injections can be harmful to tissues and bones, and
when recommended, are usually limited to no more than three times a year.
Visco-supplementation – The injection of a gel-like medication (hyaluronates) into a joint
to supplement the viscous properties of synovial fluid can sometimes be helpful.
Surgery – For those whose symptoms no longer respond to conservative treatment,
surgery may be considered. Knee and hip replacement may be a positive
solution to the pain and disability of advanced osteoarthritis. The rough,
worn surfaces of the joint are relined with smooth-surfaced metal and
Why choose us?
If you and your physician have determined that surgery is your best option,
the Advanced Spine & Joint Institute at Alvarado Hospital is modeled
after the nationally renowned Marshall Steele program, which is recognized
for superior outcomes. In fact, Alvarado has the first and only Marshall
Steele-based program in San Diego for total joint replacement. Marshall
Steele programs have superior outcomes and high patient satisfaction scores.
Our specially designed recovery unit is decorated to reflect San Diego’s
beautiful landscapes and landmarks—which is designed to optimize
healing. This specially designed unit is combined with unique features,
such as extensive pre- and post-education, wearing comfortable clothes
from home, specialized surgical training, early mobility, and other program
You are invited to learn more about our program, find an orthopedic specialist
and take an online video tour by visiting our website. To tour in person,
call our care coordinators at (619) 229-4548 or via
e-mail.If you want to combine a healing environment with the latest advances
in total joint replacement, look no further than the brand‐new Advanced
Spine & Joint Institute at Alvarado Hospital.
To find a specialist affiliated with the Spine & Joint Institute, contact
one of our friendly customer service representatives at (800) ALVARADO
(258-2723) or simply
click on this link. Alvarado Hospital accepts almost all private and government insurance
plans, including Covered California.
Alvarado Advantage Club
If you will be an Alvarado Hospital patient or visitor, you are invited
to join the free
Alvarado Advantage Club. Members receive a variety of benefits, including VIP parking and priority
for a private room when available; 10% discount at the Alvarado Gift Shop,
Cafe and Gourmet Coffee Cart; 10% discount at the Alvarado Medical Plaza
Pharmacy; first notification of special events and classes; hotel discounts
and much, much more! To learn more or to register online,
click here. To register through one of our customer service representatives, call