The reason that doctors don’t treat osteoarthritis, OA, is that there is no known treatment for this devastating disease (32 million in the US). Currently, there is no treatment until the disease is advanced and then joint replacement is the answer.
Osteoarthritis is considered a wear and tear disease and a disease of aging. The cartilage at the ends of bones starts to break down, inflammation is established. But some consider OA to be an inflammatory arthritis where the inflammation is an integral component of the disease from the start. For now it is a disease that the medical community dismisses and sends patients home with a NSAID. A NSAID is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen.
It is a disease that currently has no magic bullet. With no magic bullet, the drug companies have no interest in the disease. Not profitable. The biologics don’t work for OA. Medication is palliative and common. Pain relief. There is physical therapy. There are steroid injections. There is a cane and a walker.
When I had bone on bone hip disease, my orthopedic surgeon almost declined the surgery. He read my latest spine MRI that said I had spondylolithesis and a degenerating spine. He decided to go ahead on the recommendation of my primary who he highly respected. I was lucky.
Hip replacement is an elective surgery. Seems odd that it is. But those who can’t afford it or have other compromising diseases will be rejected and will live a life of incapacitating pain. I was lucky. I had extensive physical therapy after my hip replacement. My hip pain disappeared.
Joint replacement should not be elective surgery. It should be required surgery. Osteoarthritis needs to be treated aggressively for all who need it. Osteoarthritis may occur alongside rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis may affect a knee or a hip. It is not symmetrical. It doesn’t affect organs like RA does.
This is a disease most Americans treat for themselves. There are the NSAIDs such as ibuprofen. There is Salonpas and Voltarin Gel. There are more supportive items on Amazon. Doctors have several NSAIDs that are prescription drugs that might help. Osteoarthritis is more than a disease of aging. It is a disease that cripples many people and leaves them suspended in a pain filled existence. This is not what we want. We want more solutions from the medical community.