Our goal is to help you remain active and continue doing the activities you enjoy.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of arthritis marked by worn, damaged or lost cartilage. Common symptoms associated with arthritis include:
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Soft tissue muscle aches
  • Stiffness

In severe cases, arthritis can even make activities of daily living difficult and painful. Other related issues also can arise because prolonged arthritis pain can cause weakness around the arthritic joint, and other body parts may compensate for this weakness. For example, someone with arthritis in the knee may change his or her running gait, which can lead to pain and problems with the ankle, hip, back and muscles around the knee.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a different form of arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease and can cause pain, swelling and stiffness in your joints, but it can also affect parts of your body beyond your joints. Although osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have some things in common, the information in this section is focused on osteoarthritis.

Does exercise cause arthritis?

The short answer is no. Exercise can actually help relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Who’s at risk?

Age and weight have an impact on susceptibility to arthritis, but the major risk is related to trauma. Breaking an ankle, tearing a ligament or damaging key structures of your joint like the cartilage and meniscus will result in a 60-70 percent chance of having arthritis within 10 years.

Diagnosis

Your history and physical examination will help your physician in the diagnosis of arthritis. Many times x-rays are also done to further look at the joint. X-rays can show joint space narrowing and bony spurs, common signs of arthritis. Physicians and scientists are working on finding earlier biomarkers for osteoarthritis, because early detection may lead to better long-term outcomes.


Nonsurgical Treatments

Nonsurgical treatments

Nonsurgical treatments

Our objectives are to create a balance of activity and arthritis treatment, and to determine what a healthy load is for body parts. Our immediate goal is to minimize symptoms and slow progression of the disease.

Oral Medications

In the early stages of arthritis, over-the-counter pain medications may be used to help control the pain from osteoarthritis. Acetaminophen is the most common type of pain reliever used for arthritis. Over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories are also used. Any patient using these medications for a prolonged period of time should notify their physician so appropriate monitoring can be done. For more severe pain, your physician may give you a prescription medication to help.

Injection Therapies

Steroid injections
Injections are used to reduce joint pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis. They are often used when the pain and swelling from arthritis are significantly affecting a patient’s activities of daily living. It is not recommended to have more than three shots within a year.

Your physician may use musculoskeletal ultrasound to help guide your injection into the joint. Musculoskeletal ultrasound improves accuracy when treating you with steroid injections in the office, and it is used for deeper joints, joints with poor anatomic landmarks and joints with little to no joint space. This technique uses sound waves to create images of the joint and to identify the needle used to inject the joint, helping the physician guide it to the affected area. This technique is done in the office and does not expose you to radiation.

Natural joint fluid treatment
This treatment, also known as hyaluronic acid injections, uses an injectable substance made from the building blocks of cartilage to create the type of cushioning cartilage provides. It is primarily used for arthritis of the knee. Those who respond to this treatment can experience relief for up to six months or longer, and this treatment can be repeated if pain returns.

Exercise / Lifestyle Modification

Joints need motion to stay healthy. Patients with osteoarthritis may need to participate in lower impact activities to reduce shock to their affected joints and reduce the risk of advancing the degeneration.

Exercises that might help include:
  • Range-of-motion: stretching and flexibility exercises to improve range of motion
  • Strength-based: strengthening muscles to take the burden off weak joints
  • Low-impact: water-based, cycling or other lower-impact activity, allowing you to benefit from exercise while lessening the load on your joints 

Surgical Treatments

Surgical Treatments

Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center recommends exhausting other treatment options before deciding on surgery. Treatment is personalized for each patient, and in many cases surgery can be avoided. But when there is great discomfort or you desire to get back to your sport and other methods haven’t produced the desired results, surgery can diminish pain and improve function. 

Arthroscopy involves inserting a telescopic device fitted with a camera into the affected area. Your physician will make the appropriate repairs, removing inflammation, loose bone or cartilage. Depending on the extent of the repair, the procedure usually takes less than an hour. For insufficiency fractures of the knee, arthroscopic assisted subchondroplasty is an option.

Why Ohio State?

Why choose The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for addressing arthritis while remaining active in your sport?

Comprehensive treatments: We specialize in a comprehensive team approach when it comes to treating osteoarthritis in athletes.

Expert Care: We offer fellowship-level physician care and physical therapy, which means our providers have completed up to two years of intense, specialized experiential training in the field.

Experience: As the sideline care providers for more than 5,000 central Ohio competitors and performers, including Ohio State’s athletes and varsity teams, we have the experience to help maintain better health and athletic performance.

A Closer Look at Arthritis and Sports

Caring for the Aging Athlete

Dr. Christopher Kaeding discusses the neuromuscular changes associated with aging and how they impact our ability to remain at the same level of athletic activity.

Treatment Options for Shoulder Arthritis

Dr. Bishop shares treatment options for shoulder arthritis, from rest to shoulder replacement when conservative treatments no longer succeed.

Our doctors who treat osteoarthritis in athletes