If you have painful joints, you may have osteoarthritis. The Rheumatology Center of UMass Memorial Medical Center and its team of rheumatology specialists are experts in the care of osteoarthritis.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis affecting people, usually over the age of 40 years. Despite the common belief that osteoarthritis is a result of aging, multiple other factors may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.

These factors include:

  • Genetics
  •  Physical stress on the joint
  •  Muscle weakness
  •  Biochemical changes that result in cartilage loss

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain when using the affected joint, which typically improves with rest. The joint may be stiff in the morning or after rest, but stiffness usually lasts less than 30 minutes. Involved joints can be swollen and there may be a sensation of grinding with movement. Bone enlargement can be seen and felt in some joints.

The joints most commonly affected by osteoarthritis include:

  • Finger knuckles
  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Feet
  • Neck
  • Lower spine

Currently, although there is no specific therapy to stop or reverse osteoarthritis, there are many ways to manage the symptoms. These include:

  • Strengthening of muscles around the joint
  • Weight loss when osteoarthritis is present in weight-bearing joints
  • Use of acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory medications

Corticosteroid or other types of injections may be helpful. Additional treatments also include complementary or alternative medicine.

Surgical options are available when these measures are not effective. Learn more about our orthopedic surgeons’ joint replacement program.

Diagnosis and Management of Osteoarthritis

UMass Memorial rheumatologists are experts in diagnosing and treating osteoarthritis.

Your rheumatology care consists of:

  • Obtaining a thorough history of symptoms, performing careful physical examination, and obtaining appropriate laboratory testing and imaging to support the diagnosis and exclude other causes of joint pain
  • Educating you about the disease process and its management
  • Assessing effectiveness of therapy and monitoring for potential side effects of treatment
  • Maintaining open communication with your primary care physician to coordinate your care
  • Partnering with orthopedic colleagues, if surgical intervention is needed