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What is osteoarthritis?

Arthritis is more common than most people realize. It can happen abruptly and slowly spread throughout the body. It is important to be aware of these diseases and how they occur in order to help prevent them.

The common symptoms of arthritis are pain and stiffness generally caused by degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis). Osteoarthritis is a condition that involves the breakdown of joint cartilage. Cartilage is a rubbery tissue that covers the ends of moving bones in joints. It acts as both a shock absorber and a lubricant, protecting your bones from damage and providing smooth, pain-free movement.

There are over 100 different types of arthritis, so it is important to see a specialist to get a diagnosis and find out which treatments are right for you.


Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can help control swelling and pain. It is important to consult your doctor before taking medication for joint pain.

Assistive Devices & Rest

Assistive devices, such as a cane or walker, can help reduce the pressure placed on joints and alleviate some pain. Resting after activity can also help control moderate joint pain.

Joint Replacement

The technique of joint replacement uses prosthetic implants to replace the damaged sections of bone and cartilage in the joint. The purpose of the procedure is to restore function and mobility and to provide relief from joint pain.

The most common reason joints are replaced is osteoarthritis, which is the diagnosis in 90% of patients receiving a new joint. However, patients may be candidates for joint replacement if they suffer from any of the following conditions:

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

This is significantly less common than osteoarthritis, affecting 1.3 million Americans, mostly women. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, the cause of which is unknown. The body’s immunological system attacks healthy tissue, causing inflammation of the joint lining and subsequent joint damage.

Avascular Necrosis (AVN)

Also known as osteonecrosis, this is a disorder where the blood supply to the bone is compromised, causing weakness and potential bone collapse. Mostly occurring in people between the ages of 30 and 60, AVN most commonly affects alcoholics, people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus, and people ingesting high doses of steroids.

Post-Traumatic Arthritis (PTA)

Injuries to the joint and cartilage which do not fully heal may lead to an arthritic condition.

Paget’s Disease

A disorder whereby bone formation accelerates, creating changes in the shape and strength of the bone.

Some types of arthritis require prompt diagnosis and treatment. If you have a type of arthritis that can cause permanent joint damage, getting treatment quickly can help preserve joint function and prevent other serious health problems.

Watch for these potential signs and symptoms of arthritis:

  • Pain, swelling, or stiffness in one or more joints
  • Joints that are red or warm to the touch
  • Joint tenderness or stiffness
  • Difficulty moving a joint or doing daily activities
  • Joint symptoms that cause you concern

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Joint symptoms that last three days or more
  • Several episodes of joint symptoms within a month

What is joint replacement surgery?

Joint replacement surgery is removing a damaged joint and putting in a new one. Partial or total joint replacement may be suggested as a last resort for the treatment of arthritis. Hips and knees are replaced most often, but other joints including shoulders, fingers, ankles, and elbows may also be replaced.

Joint replacement surgery often vastly improves a patient’s quality of life by restoring function to their joints and alleviating pain and symptoms that were experienced prior to the procedure.

Learn more about joint replacement here.

People with arthritis and related diseases may benefit from the integrative care offered by our Pain Medicine Specialists here at SMOC.

We’re proud to be the home for many Intervential Pain care doctors. Those are James H. Henick, MD, Dr. Victor Tseng as well as physician assistant Scott Clingan, MSHS, PA-C.

Learn more about our Interventional Pain Specialty here.

  • The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • American Association of Hand Surgery
  • American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons
  • American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society
  • American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery
  • American College of Foot and Ankle Surgery
  • Virginia Orthopaedic Society, Sentara
  • Sentara
  • Chesapeake Regional Medical Center
  • 5801 Harbour View Blvd
    Suite 200
    Suffolk, VA 23435

    Monday-Friday 8am-5pm

  • 501 Discovery Drive
    Chesapeake, VA 23320


  • 150 Burnett’s Way
    Suite 100
    Suffolk, VA 23434

    Monday-Friday 8am-5pm