Joint Degeneration

Understanding Our Joints

Our joints are remarkable. They allow us to move and turn, bend and walk, run and jump. We have hinge- and-pivot joints in our elbows and knees, and ball-and-socket joints in our hips and shoulders.

As impressive as our joints are, they’re still prone to wear-and-tear. Just as the brake pads in your car wear down over time, a special tissue (cartilage) in your joints can break down. And when your cartilage wears thin, you feel joint pain, stiffness and swelling. Cartilage decline may be caused by normal aging, or a medical condition like osteoarthritis.

If you have mild joint pain and stiffness, over-the-counter medication and moderate exercise may help. But if your symptoms are getting worse – and pain is making it hard for you to perform normal daily activities – it may be time to talk to your doctor.

Joint Care at Mercy

Our orthopedic specialists share a passion for helping people stay active and independent. We’ll help you figure out what’s causing your joint pain, so we can fix it.

If your joint pain is related to wear-and-tear or early arthritis, your doctor may recommend:

  • Weight loss. Extra weight puts extra burden on your joints, especially your hips, knees and ankles. Losing weight through diet and safe exercise can significantly reduce joint pain.
  • Physical therapy. Our orthopedic rehabilitation specialists can teach you exercises that strengthen your muscles and improve range of motion.
  • Steroid shots, also known as cortisone injections, can reduce joint inflammation. In some patients, shots provide pain relief for several months.
  • Medication. There are many over-the-counter and prescription drugs that reduce pain and inflammation.

However, once your cartilage wears away, it’s gone forever. If your arthritis is severe, and conservative treatments aren’t helping, your Mercy physician may recommend joint replacement surgery. The procedure involves replacing your worn-out joint with an artificial one made of metal or plastic parts.

Shoulder replacementhip replacement and knee replacement surgeries have a high degree of success relieving pain and restoring movement. And today’s artificial implants may last 10-20 years before needing replacement.

No matter what your age, pain shouldn’t keep you from enjoying life. We’ll help you get your symptoms under control, so you can get back to doing what you love.

Download a Joint Replacement Guide

See if joint replacement is the right move for you.

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