If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoarthritis and are looking into your options, it’s important you know the 4 stages of osteoarthritis. Once you know what stage you are in, you can look at the options for treating it and avoid later stages.
As it is a degenerative condition, the four stages of osteoarthritis are a graduated scale of worsening and can be identified through imagery and symptoms.
Stage 1 – Stage 1 is the point of least damage to the joint. There may be minor wear and tear that accompanies the average life, but many patients do not even feel much pain in this stage. If you have been diagnosed with stage 1 osteoarthritis, it may be time to take action to prevent the condition from worsening.
Stage 2 – In stage 2, the symptoms are becoming more noticeable. In imaging, bone spurs will likely be present. Your joint(s) may be painful and stiff after inactivity, and the cartilage is showing wear. Patients in stage 2 will likely take over-the-counter pain medication on an occasional or routine basis.
Stage 3 – Stage 3 can be quite bad and is essentially your last chance for alternative treatments. This is the point where the degeneration of the cartilage is severe and where cortisol injections or rooster shots may be given to replace the synovial fluid that is now missing to allow for more movement.
Stage 4 – At this point, the damage is extreme. Patients in stage 4 have likely been told by their doctor that the only option is joint replacement surgery. There is little to no cartilage left, and it is essentially bone-on-bone contact. Stage 4 osteoarthritis is extremely painful, and your options at this point are very limited.
Treatments For Osteoarthritis
As patients with OA progress through the osteoarthritis stages, they are generally taken through a course of treatments by their primary care physician. They might be advised to take over-the-counter pain medication or prescribed potent painkillers. They may also receive a series of cortisol injections and might be given a rooster shot (synthetic synovial fluid).
Each of these treatments reduces the joint’s pain and may help the patient use the joint more freely for a short period of time, but none of these treatments work to reverse the damage done or prevent the eventual degradation into stage 3 or 4. Unfortunately, these treatments inevitably result in a worsening of the condition through continued use of the joint, and the patient continues heading towards stage 4.
Regenerative medicine has a different goal. Rather than mask the pain temporarily, regenerative medicine aims to provide the affected joint with the necessary cellular components to accelerate the body’s natural healing process. This encourages the repair of damaged tissue at the cellular level and new, healthy cell growth. These advanced treatments are non-surgical and non-invasive. As long as there is still some healthy cartilage left to work with, most osteoarthritis patients can still receive regenerative treatments, even in severe cases like late in stage 3.
Find out if you are a candidate for revolutionary regenerative medicine treatments for osteoarthritis by contacting our practice and setting up your complimentary consultation.