What Is Osteoarthritis
Among the more than 100 types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common type. More than 25 million Americans suffer from this condition. People who are obese and live a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop this condition. Injury or trauma to the joint is also another risk factor.
Beyond the age of 55, osteoarthritis affects more women than men. By age 65, about 3 in 10 women would have some degree of this condition. It is also known as degenerative joint disease.
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is attributed to the ageing process but not all elderly people will end up with this condition. The condition is caused by the wear and tear of bone joints through the years of daily use. Progressively, the cartilage, which is the flexible, slippery tissue located between bone joints, becomes thinner.
Cartilage is tough but softer than bones. It enables the joints to withstand pressure and stress, thus allowing easy movement of the joints. It has no nerve endings and so does not register pain when there is friction or strain. As the cartilage protective layer wears out, the end of the bones will start to rub against each other, causing pain.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis symptoms may start in the 40s and it come on slowly, worsening over time. The joints most affected are in the knees, hips and hands. Symptoms are generally pain and stiffness. Swelling may occur, resulting in the affected joint area feeling warm and tender. Pain is felt during and after movement.
Stiffness is felt more in the morning when waking up or after a period of inactivity, like after sitting down for a certain period. Flexibility of joint appears more hindered and there may be some grating sensation when joints are in motion.
Osteoarthritis of knee is the most common of osteoarthritis. The symptoms can be experienced earlier due to knee injury or frequent overuse of the knee, especially those who subject their knees to regular repetitive stress. People who regularly play certain sports like soccer are at risk of developing osteoarthritis in the knee. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, deformity of the knee joint area, muscle weakness and even pain at the back of the knee.
Nutrients from the blood are essential in the healing process of organs and tissues. Bone joint cartilage is hard to heal as it does not contain blood vessels. Therefore, arthritis is hard to treat.
Treatment for osteoarthritis would generally be medication used as arthritis pain relief and physical therapy to help improve joint movement. For obese people, diet control and weight reduction would also help to bring about some relief for arthritis.
Beware of some medications that can help to relieve arthritis pain but have side effects. As an example, acetaminophen (Tylenol), a drug used to relieve pain, can cause diarrhea and loss of appetite. In overdose, acetaminophen can cause liver damage. Some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like ibuprofen and celebrex have side effects like tinnitus and stomach upsets, and can even increase the risk of strokes.
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“Glucosamine produced in the body provides natural building blocks for growth, repair and maintenance of cartilage. Like chondroitin, glucosamine may lubricate joints, help cartilage retain water and prevent its breakdown. Trial results are mixed, but overall, glucosamine appears to reduce pain and improve function in OA. Research also suggests glucosamine may slow joint damage.”