- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Symptoms Of, And Treatments That Will Help, Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis, occurs when the cartilage that cushions a joint, erodes over time so that the ends of the bones become damaged. Pain results. Osteoarthritis, for reasons not entirely understood, occurs more commonly in women.
Unlike other forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs only in joints where deterioration has occurred. It does not spread throughout the body. Osteoarthritis affects over ten percent of the adult population in the United States.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis appear slowly over time. Typical symptoms include; a grating sensation when the joint is used, pain during and after use, stiffness, tenderness when touched, swelling, and decreased flexibility.
If you have any of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately so your condition can be diagnosed and treatment begun.
There are some risk factors that increase the chances that osteoarthritis will develop. These include: obesity, which can put excessive pressure on numerous joints, injury to a joint, aging, muscle weakness, genetics, some diseases, and being a woman. People in some occupations may be predisposed to osteoarthritis. For example, individuals who are required to work in a squat position may develop osteoarthritis in one or both knees.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis but the disease can be managed. There are numerous things you can do yourself to improve your quality of life. Eliminate excess weight. This alone can lessen pain in both the knees and the back. Simply maintaining good posture can avoid putting further stress on worn joints. Get adequate rest. This is especially important if joints are swollen or painful. Apply heat or cold to the affected joint. Heat can loosen up stiff joints, and cold can help control pain. Gentle exercise can keep joints flexible and maintain muscle strength. Tai Chi and Yoga, with their slow, fluid motions, have proven helpful in improving both flexibility and range of motion.
Some individuals have found considerable relief by taking the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin. Discuss this with your doctor. Also discuss a supplement of ginger, also found by some to be helpful.
Acupuncture has also been beneficial to some individuals.
Once you have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, your doctor will set up a plan of treatment. This plan will probably include some form of medication to manage pain, reduce inflammation and maintain flexibility. Your doctor will prescribe the medication that is best for you, depending on the severity of your symptoms, any other conditions that you have, and any other medications that you may be taking. If you are prescribed medication, understand and possible side affects and report immediately any unexpected side affects that appear suddenly.
Your physician may refer you to a physiotherapist who can give you a series of exercises that may relieve pain as well as increase strength and flexibility.
Cortisone shots into the affected area can bring considerable relief. Exactly why cortisone works is not fully understood. Too many shots can actually increase joint damage so your doctor will decide if this is a good option for you.
Some joints can be supported by braces or splints which are adjusted to fit a particular joint.
Bones in joints can be fused which decreases pain and adds stability but unfortunately eliminates all joint flexibility.
If there are no further management options to make life tolerable, joint replacement is a possibility. Joint replacements are proving highly successful. To help guarantee that your replacement is a success, keep your weight under control. and exercise as advised.