There are various types of arthritis, but in the world of orthopedics we deal mostly with osteoarthritis (OA), a degenerative joint disease. When a patient is shown an x-ray of their painful joint and told they have arthritis the natural next questions is “how bad is it?” When describing the severity of arthritis in a joint we use a grading scale of 0-4.
0 – Normal: this means the joint is a healthy joint
1 – Minor: typically, there are no symptoms of pain with stage 1 arthritis but there is some development of wear and tear in the joint.
2 – Mild: x-ray imaging can show bone spur growth at this stage, but the cartilage and joint space remains rather typical. Pain symptoms are more likely to begin begin at this stage. Other symptoms may include stiffness.
3 – Moderate: there is obvious changes to the cartilage surface between the bones, bone spurs develop making the bones rough, and there are visible changes in the joint space. With the progression of OA there is joint inflammation that will contribute to symptoms of pain. There may also be symptoms of popping with movement.
4 – Severe: Space between the bones is reduced considerably resulting in the cartilage to breakdown, increase inflation, and pain.
During the early stages of arthritis, conservative treatment including physical therapy and lifestyle changes, such as weight loss can help minimize symptoms and worsening of OA. As OA progresses into higher stages, your symptoms and pain typically increase and your ability to perform everyday activities are affected. Moderate and severe OA symptoms can also be improved with PT. However, people with moderate and severe OA must be diligent, patient, and more cautious with exercise selection and effort. The skill of PT becomes more valuable with advanced OA.
Let OrthoKnox and OrthoKnox Physical Therapy assist you in addressing your joint pain, call 865-251-3030 for an appointment or fill out our easy-to-use online appointment request form. We look forward to hearing from you!