My name is Dr. Vicki Smithers. I am a family physician in Rockwall, Texas. I have been in practice here for 15 years. I am a medical speaker and I speak across the state about stress management and other health and wellness topics. To find out my availability  for your next event, contact me at


Patients are continually coming to the office with problems with joint pain. It is a very common problem. Joint pain can be related to many different causes. It can be related to a bruise or ligament strain from an injury. It can be due to over use of the joint. It can also be due to wear and tear on the joint that occurs with aging called osteoarthritis. There are multiple other types of arthritis that are all treated with different medications. It is important to be seen and evaluated by a medical provider if you are having persistent joint pain that is not improving with rest.

Types of Arthritis

  • inflammatory arthritis
  • gout
  • septic arthritis

What Causes Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a disorder characterized by progressive joint failure in which all structures of the joint have undergone some pathologic changes. Osteoarthritis is caused by the thinning of hyaline cartilage and increasing thickness of the bone. There can be small bone spurs or osteophytes. Weakness of the muscles across the joint can also occur. Osteoarthritis is most common with increasing age, excessive body weight, and with overuse. It is more common in women than men. It is more common in joints that have had prior injury or major trauma. Changes of osteoarthritis begin in the cartilage. The most commonly found joints involved are the knees, hips, shoulders, back, hands and feet.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Common symptoms include:

  • stiffness
  • loss of joint movement
  • deformity
  • swelling
  • pain
  • bony joint swelling infingers
  • fluid on the joint
  • they can have creaking and cracking in the joint
  • decreased movement of the joint
  •  in a more advanced stages they can have deformity of the joints with severe restriction of movement.

Initial evaluation when the patient comes in complaining of joint symptoms is a physical exam. Exam may include some lab work that could include a sedimentation rate, rheumatoid factor, antinuclear antibodies, sometimes a joint aspiration, and radiographs or x-rays. The treatment goal is to decrease pain and increase range of motion. Treatment can include physical therapy or exercises. Treatment can include braces or orthotics. We sometimes use topical capsaicin cream for the hands or knees. Tylenol, aspirin, anti-inflammatories can be taken. Stronger pain medications can be used as well. Provider can give intra-articular joint injections with steroids or hyaluronin (a viscous hylan polymer), if medication does not control the symptoms. In more advanced cases, arthroscopic and joint replacement surgeries are sometimes needed.

Osteoarthritis Treatment Including Physical Therapy and Pain Medication

  1. Rest the joint.
  2. Take the prescribed medication.
  3. Do the exercises or stretches provided.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Follow up as instructed.

Call if redness, rash or worsening pain develops. Call if you have fever along with joint or muscle aches.

Health and Happiness!

How to Reduce Stress to be Healthy and Happy By Living Well – Dr. Victoria Smithers

By Dr. Victoria Smithers MD on Incline