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05.31.2018
A Guide to Degenerative Joint Disease
If you're having long-term issues with stiffness and pain in your joints, then you could have osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. This disease can be debilitating and reduce your quality of life. However, if you're in the beginning stages, then you may be able to improve your condition through injections and other treatments.

Here is more information about degenerative joint disease, including the symptoms, risks, and types of treatments available, and how these treatments may be able to help your condition.

About Degenerative Joint Disease

Degenerative joint disease is when the joint and the cartilage wears down to the point where the joint can no longer perform its usual function without pain and stiffness. This condition can occur in any joint in the body including the wrists, fingers, knees, and even the spine. In some cases, the cartilage completely disintegrates and the bones rub directly against each other.

What Are the Symptoms of Degenerative Joint Disease?

Degenerative joint disease can have many symptoms, but the main ones are pain and stiffness when you try to move the muscles around the joint. The joint and the area around it may feel tender to the touch and sometimes you can see swelling.

What Are the Risk Factors for Degenerative Joint Disease?

While people of any age can get degenerative joint disease, it commonly affects middle-aged and older people. Previously injured or overused joints are more likely to get this disease. Family history and obesity are also contributing factors.

What Can Happen if Degenerative Joint Disease Is Not Treated?

If you take other precautions such as watching your weight and activities, then the disease may not progress past minor aches and pains. However, depending on the joint affected, there is a good chance that the disease will get worse if it isn't treated or nothing else changes. The condition could progress to the point where you could be in debilitating pain, have nerve damage, and lose mobility.

What Types of Injections or Treatments Are Available?
As mentioned previously, one effective treatment method is injections. There are different types of injections available to help reduce pain and inflammation. The three most commonly used ones are listed below.

Corticosteroids

These injections are one of the more common, and cost-effective, injections available for this disease. Corticosteroids help to reduce inflammation. However, this chemical may not be suitable for people with blood sugar-related issues as it does affect sugar levels.

Hyaluronic Acid

These injections are often used in people who have sensitivities to corticosteroids or where corticosteroids don't work. This chemical replicates the natural lubricants in the joints.

Platelet-Rich Plasma 

These injections use platelets from your own blood to help heal the soft tissues around your joint. This treatment can help your body use its own abilities to fight inflammation.

Each of these injections has the risk of infection and swelling at the injection site, but this risk is generally minimal for healthy people. Not everyone responds to these injections, especially if the joint damage is too severe. For most people, the results are temporary but can last a long time before needing another injection.

Are There Other Treatments for Degenerative Joint Disease?

If you don't want to do injections, then there are other treatments available, including oral medications, physical therapy, rest, and low-impact exercises like stretching or yoga. For the most severe cases, surgery is also an option. However, this should be used as a last resort and only after all other treatments have been exhausted.

While degenerative joint disease can be painful and restrict your activities, you don't have to live this way. If you catch the condition early and see a specialist, then you could stop the pain and reduce the damage so that you can live an active life.

If you're having chronic pain in your joints or any other part of your body, contact us at the Greystone Neurology and Pain Centers for a consultation. We can provide an evaluation and help you choose the best options for your specific needs.
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04.03.2018
Treatment Options to Consider for Chronic Migraines

When you suffer from chronic migraines, you may wake up every day wondering if this is the day that your next migraine will strike. While you may have simply been suffering through those horrible headaches for years, you might now be looking for treatment options that can help you with your migraine pain and even help to prevent future migraines.

Get to know some of the migraine treatment options available. Then, you can talk to your medical team and get the care that you need to better deal with and prevent your migraines going forward.

Prescription Pain Medications

While you have likely taken over-the-counter pain medications to deal with your migraine pain, you might not have asked your doctor about prescription-strength pain medication options. There are several prescription pain medication options available to help you with your migraines.

If you choose to take prescription pain medications, you need to be aware that some of these medications contain opioid or narcotic drugs like codeine. Opioids are powerful painkillers and should only be taken when necessary. There is the risk of developing a dependence to those drugs if you overuse or misuse them.

Preventive Medications

If you have several migraines a month that are intense enough to disrupt your life, then you may be in need of more than just acute pain management. Instead, you might need a long-term pain management plan.

Preventive prescription medications can sometimes help to reduce the frequency of your migraine headaches. Beta blockers, for example, are generally used to treat heart conditions, but they can also be useful in treating chronic migraine headaches. Calcium channel blockers are another medication usually used for cardiovascular disease that can treat migraines.

Other preventive medications include antidepressants and anti-seizure medications. Both of these can have the positive impact on migraine headaches needed to reduce the frequency of those headaches.

Botox Treatments

One of the newer and more innovative treatment options available today for migraine headache prevention is the use of Botox. Botox is most often thought of as a cosmetic treatment to help with fine lines and wrinkles; however, it also has more treatment applications.

In the case of migraines, the idea is that the Botox impacts the nerves. It is injected into the head, face, and neck and the Botox gets into the nerves in the surrounding areas of the injections. Then, it works to block or deaden pain receptors and signals so that the pain of the migraine cannot be transmitted to the brain for processing.

Botox can act swiftly to help reduce the severity and the frequency of migraine headaches. However, it is not a one-time treatment option. Botox is usually administered in 12-week increments. After a few of these treatments, the frequency of migraine headaches may very well be cut in half.

Alternative Medicine Treatments

In addition to the conventional medical treatment options available to help with your chronic migraines, there are also alternative medical treatments to consider, including acupuncture and acupressure.

Acupuncture and acupressure are ancient Chinese medical practices that are based on a theory of flowing energies throughout the body. Much like the blood running through vessels, energy flows through energy channels throughout the body. There are also energy hubs or points that are important to triggering the flow of energy in the body.

If those energy channels are blocked, many symptoms can occur, including headaches and migraines. An acupuncturist or acupressure expert will use tiny needles or manual pressure to stimulate those energy points and rebalance the flow of energy in the body.

Other alternative medicine treatments that might help with your chronic migraines include chiropractic care, massage therapy, meditation, and biofeedback treatments. All of these can help with migraine headaches in different ways by improving the health of the spine, muscles, and the mind.

Now that you know more about some of the migraine treatments available to you, you can contact your doctor to start getting the treatments you need to relieve your migraine pain.  

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