Even while osteoarthritis (OA) affects roughly ten percent of the U.S. population, many patients who suffer from the condition don’t know or understand their treatment options and often do little to treat it effectively. Whether patients refuse to seek treatment, or they know little about the treatment available, there are related risk factors that can and should be known by these patients. These modifiable risk factors, while various, all fall under three categories of mitigation including: personal, clinical, and public. The more personal risk factors related to osteoarthritis include the conditions that can be altered by the patient to reduce the complications related to osteoarthritis.
Clinical, modifiable risk factors are mitigated between doctors and patients and include prescriptions, therapies, and lifestyle education. Publicly mitigated risk factors also include education of the condition of osteoarthritis and have more wide-reaching, informative capabilities, though require self-derived motivation to create an effect such as modifying your diet or lifestyle, which is often very difficult to do and even more difficult to sustain. While it is positive that these categories exist as channels for education, without intervention and action through these channels, patients of osteoarthritis will remain under-treated. In other words, if patients are educated on how to treat their osteoarthritis, they may still do nothing if intervention and action are not pursued. This ultimately means that there needs to be a safe and effective solution that can at the very least help patients get out of pain long enough to have the motivation to make changes in diet and exercise that can help their overall condition. As we all know, it’s very difficult to want to exercise when you’re in pain. It’s also very difficult to be motivated to eat better and build a healthier lifestyle when you’re in chronic pain, so ultimately the fist step in the process should focus on the getting the patient out of pain in a safe and effective way such that there is motivation to engage in more action.
A 2019 study concentrating on the mitigation of knee osteoarthritis centered its arguments for treatment around six prevalent risk factors including: “(1) obesity and overweight, (2) comorbidity, (3) occupational factors, (4) physical activity, (5) biomechanical factors, (6) dietary exposures” (Georgiev 2019). While all of these risk factors fall into the aforementioned categories (personal, clinical, and public), the most imperative factor for all of these risk factors is that they have a potential for mitigation to assist in the treatment of osteoarthritis. For example, the risk factor of obesity is a factor that can be mitigated to change the severity of osteoarthritis and it falls almost entirely into the personal category for, less so for education, and more so for intervention. If a patient is aware and educated in the processes and responsibility, they have to maintain their weight, without personal intervention and action, the risk factor will remain and osteoarthritis pain will not likely be mitigated.
While the study continues to address these risk factors and the importance of educating patients, doctors Tsvetoslav Georgiev and Alexander Angelov also conclude that, “[i]n the era of age- and obesity-related diseases, the combined effects of local and systemic risk factors should be managed by combined measures”. Patients should be made aware that the effective treatment of their osteoarthritis includes educating themselves personally and with their physicians. At the same time, if patients do not make the right decisions and act for themselves and they do not use the “combined measures” to fight their osteoarthritis, it is likely that the condition will progress– and not in a good way. But what are these “combined measures”, specifically?
While patients follow the advice of their doctors, they often conclude that even while they do so, the pain and inconvenience of osteoarthritis permeates too much of their life and they would like to do more. Doctors Georgiev and Angelov list the following interventions: “[f]emoral muscle-strengthening physical activities, complemented with proper diet, weight loss, vocational rehabilitation, management of comorbidities (especially diabetes and depression), and biomechanical support”. While education and intervention of these risk factors can help to lessen the symptoms of osteoarthritis, the study also concludes that, “[a]n individual risk factor modification program should be developed in accordance with patient preferences and habits, workplace, medical history, and overall health condition”. Patients should take heart in the fact that, with the advice of their doctor, maintaining their osteoarthritis and lessening its impact greatly depends on the individual choices they make related to their risk factors. In the meantime, there are treatments for osteoarthritis, and they are just a phone call away.
In the year 2000, a clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of another nonsurgical treatment known as viscosupplementation was conducted. While the clinical trials of viscosupplementation were in their infancy, Dr. John Watterson found that “. . . the lack of systemic side effects and the potential lasting effects make it an appealing option” (2000). The process of viscosupplementation is best described as an injection of hyaluronic acid which is a cushioning and lubricating fluid within the joint that creates a loosening and relaxing of the joint, giving it a cushion effect and takes the direct contact pressure off the joint to help relieve the pain. As I mentioned this nonsurgical option uses a safe natural lubricating fluid called hyaluronic acid.
Hyaluronic acid has been USDA approved for decades and Dr. Watterson attests to this benefit by stating that “[t]he US Food and Drug Administration approval of hyaluronic acid as a device has avoided the need for meeting the more stringent criteria for approval as a drug”. Decades later, the use of hyaluronic acid in viscosupplementation has remained an effective and affordable solution to treat osteoarthritis. Neuragenex uses this treatment for osteoarthritis as part of its Neurofunctional Pain Management treatment program, combining pain-relieving high pulse electrical stimulation with specialized hydration therapy. The proprietary treatment protocol used by Neuragenex is called Neuralgesia therapy and is very effective at relieving pain and restoring health, and in the case of osteoarthritis, viscosupplementation helps to create that cushion effect in the joint that helps reduce the immediate inflammation so that the other elements in the treatment program have an opportunity to take action. While viscosupplementation cushions and loosens the joints affected by OA, Neuralgesia treatments further reduce the pain and help reduce chronic systemic inflammation. Many patients report pain relief after only one session with Neuragenex and comment on quality-of-life improvements that assist in overall increases in health, such as improved sleep and more physical activity. Patients experience greater mobility, strength, and restoration of the motor skills they used to enjoy in their daily life.
Hundreds of patients who suffer from chronic pain (including pain from osteoarthritis) report relief after starting Neuralgesia treatment sessions, making Neurofunctional Pain Management a strong and attractive treatment option for patients with chronic osteoarthritis pain. Neuragenex is pioneering the field of Neurofunctional Pain Management. The mission of Neuragenex is to relieve pain, restore health, and magnify quality of life without drugs, surgery or invasive procedures. It is our vision to be the first thought, first choice, and first step in the journey of chronic pain treatment.