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Symptoms Of, And Treatments That Will Help, Osteoarthritis

Updated on January 12, 2012

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.


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    • sheilanewton profile image


      6 years ago from North Shields, UK

      oseoarthritis can make life a painful hell for sufferers. This is a nicely presented, well-researched piece that could be helpful to lots of people. Well done.

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Thank you so much for your kind comments Writer 20 - I hope your doctor can alleviate your symptoms - regards, B.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      If only doctors explained symptoms like you. Nice and easy to understand.

      I have a flare up in my shoulders hands and knees. I'm with an Arthric Dr. and on meds. but they seem to be much to help the pain.

      I'm going to be following you for sure.

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for your kind comment Duffsmom - it is appreciated - B.

    • duffsmom profile image

      P. Thorpe Christiansen 

      7 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      Excellent hub billips! Very helpful and informative.

    • katyzzz profile image


      7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Well done and well explained and illustrated. Top hub

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for your comments Virginia - interesting about the aleve - it does make sense though - and of course losing some weight will take some of the pressure off the joints - good idea for anybody and any body - B.

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 

      7 years ago from United States

      Good information. I have managed arthritis for about ten years now. I found great relief when I started taking regular doses of aleeve once or twice a day, whether I felt pain or not. As my doctor explained to me, once you feel pain it is hard for the medicine to work. A low dose continuously can keep that pain at bay--not entirely gone, but not interferring with your life. I've also found relief recently when I lost just 14 lbs. I want to lose more but I'm surprised at the difference already.

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 

      7 years ago from Texas

      This is a very timely article for me. I found it to be very informative.


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