Arthritis is a condition that affects millions of people, both men and women. In some cases, even children can be affected. It is caused by the inflammation of one or more joints. While there are 100 or so variations of the disease, including Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), Gout, Rheumatoid, Lupus and Psoriatic arthritis, the most common form is Osteoarthritis which will be explored in greater detail in this article.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) also known as degenerative joint disease is caused by “cartilage” ie cushion between bones wearing away.This is the most prevalent and most common form of arthritis.
Some 20 million + Americans are afflicted with it. It is known as the “wear and tear” arthritis. When the protective cartilage we all have at the end of our bones breaks down and wears out, Osteoarthritis is the result. Most commonly and logically, the areas that are affected are those that we use most often. Those areas include our hands, neck, lower back, knees and hips.
Main causes of Osteoarthritis
Most often, the painful effects of Osteoarthritis are endured by older adults. Those effects include joint pain, swelling and stiffness, all of which result in limited and painful movement. While there are a number of causes cited, most often it occurs from general “wear and tear” of the joints, previously broken bones, virus infections and autoimmune diseases that mistakenly attack healthy tissue. Aging and obesity contribute to its occurrence. If the joint inflammation fails to disappear after a time, the disease is classified as chronic.
What are Osteoarthritis symptoms?
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis can vary. Each case stands on its own. Share concern for those with the most extreme forms. Those who are thus afflicted suffer tremendously and can be completely debilitated during an attack. Others with the same diagnosis feel little pain, even though the degeneration is advanced and evident on imaging photographs. It is also quite common for those with severe forms of the disease to suffer intermittently and often go years between outbreaks.
Depending on which areas of the body are affected, the symptoms can include a distinct limp, due to the pressure on the knee. If this becomes severe enough patients may require knee replacement surgery. In some cases sufferers may form hard bony enlargements of the small finger joints or on the middle finger joints. When it attacks the spine, there are a number of possible reactions that take place, none are good. These include: tingling, numbness and severe back pain.
How do we treat this form of arthritis ?
There are a number of Osteoarthritis treatment options. These options depend on the location and severity of the problem. You have no doubt heard the expression “a body in motion, stays in motion,” That bears merit as a method to reduce the pain and allow free body movement, as long as your exercise is not overdone and your doctor approves your exercise plan. Often the first phase of treatment may include the use of anti-inflammatory drugs or topical painkillers.
Severe Osteoarthritis pain can be controlled with properly administered narcotics. Alternative medical techniques such as acupuncture are becoming more common. More intense and invasive procedures are used for Osteoarthritis conditions found in the hips, knees and other joints in our body. Hips are commonly replaced with surgery, as are knees.
Living with the problem
Millions of people live with this disease. So can you. There are basic steps you can take that can help you lead a normal lifestyle. One key element that men and women can benefit from is weight loss. The less strain we put on our joints, the better we will feel. Americans are in the midst of an obesity breakout that has many negative health implications. Lose weight. Feel better. That is a fact.
Exercise should be incorporated into your daily routine. Not only does it benefit your cardiovascular system, it will strengthen your muscles and encourage healthy cartilage growth. Work on your range of motion as well as aerobic and strength conditioning. Along with exercise, learn to eat healthy. Vitamins which are good include: C, E, D and calcium are the basis of a good plan. Special arthritis medications which reduce inflammation, relieve pain and have no side effects can also be included.
Often an orthotic device can offer support for specific issues. They help your body move and support in everyday functions. Learn to manage your affliction and keep in contact with your doctor. It takes a positive attitude and strong determination.
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