Osteoarthritis: signs, causes, and treatment.
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA). Degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis are two names for it. It usually affects the hands, hips, and knees.
In OA, the cartilage in a joint begins to deteriorate and the bone beneath begins to change. Usually, these changes take time to develop and get worse. OA may cause swelling, stiffness, and discomfort.
Some people lose the ability to perform daily tasks or work because of it, which can also result in reduced function and disability.
What are the signs and symptoms of OA?
- Aches or pains
- reduction in range of motion (or flexibility)
What causes OA?
The cartilage between the bones in the joints is damaged or breaks down, leading to OA.
Joint injury or overuse: Injury or overuse can harm a joint and raise the risk of OA in that joint. Examples include knee bending and repetitive stress on a joint.
Age: As people age, their risk of developing OA rises. For instance, OA in the knee joint is more likely to develop in the elderly.
Gender: Women are more likely than men to develop OA, particularly after age 50.
Obesity: Joints are put under more strain when carrying extra weight, especially weight-bearing joints like the hips and knees. The risk of OA in that joint rises as a result of this stress. Additionally, obesity may have metabolic consequences that raise the risk of OA.
Genetics: People are more likely to develop OA if they have family members who already have it. Knee OA is more likely to develop in people with hand OA.
Race: Some Asian populations have a lower risk of OA. A study conducted in New Zealand found that, compared to European and Maori people, Polynesians had significantly lower rates of hip OA.
How is OA identified?
Through a review of the symptoms, a physical examination, X-rays, and lab tests, a doctor can determine if you have OA.
If there are any concerns about the diagnosis, a rheumatologist, a physician who focuses on arthritis and other related conditions, can be of assistance.
How is OA treated?
Since there is no known cure for OA, doctors typically use a combination of therapies to treat its symptoms, which may include the following:
- There is an increase in exercise.
- physical therapy that incorporates exercises to build muscles.
- Loss of weight medicines, such as over-the-counter painkillers and prescription medications.
- Assistive tools like crutches or canes
- Surgery (if other treatment options have not been effective)
In addition to these treatments, people can develop self-management skills to manage their OA. People with osteoarthritis can engage in the activities that are important to them thanks to these strategies, which help to lessen their pain and disability.
These five quick and easy methods for managing arthritis can be useful.
Exercise to Treat Arthritis
While some people worry that exercise will make their arthritis worse, joint-friendly exercise can actually improve the pain, function, and quality of life associated with arthritis. If you have OA, gentle stretching exercises can be especially beneficial for relieving stiffness or pain in your knees, hips, or back. Stretching can increase the range of motion and mobility.
How can I improve my quality of life while managing OA?
The CDC’s Arthritis Program recommends five self-management techniques for treating arthritis and its symptoms.
- Learn self-management skills. Attend a self-management education class to learn how to better manage your symptoms and your quality of life. Self-management education classes are beneficial for people with OA, arthritis, and other chronic conditions. Learn more about the self-management education programs that the CDC recommends.
- Get physically active. Adults should engage in 150 minutes per week of at least moderate physical activity, according to experts. Every minute counts, and even a little activity is preferable to none. Walking, swimming, or biking are suggested as moderate, low-impact activities. Additionally, regular exercise can lower the risk of developing other chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Find out more about the benefits of exercise for arthritis.
- Go to effective physical activity programs. Participation in physical activity programs can help reduce pain and disability caused by arthritis, improve mood and mobility for people who are concerned that physical activity may exacerbate OA or are unsure how to exercise safely. Classes are held in the Ys, parks, and community centers in the area. People with OA may feel better after taking these classes. Learn more about the physical activity programs that the CDC recommends.
- Talk to your doctor. By keeping regular appointments with your doctor and adhering to their recommended treatment plan, you can actively participate in managing your arthritis. If you also suffer from other chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease, then this is especially crucial.
- Lose weight. Losing weight eases pressure on joints, especially weight-bearing joints like the hips and knees, in overweight or obese people. Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight can help with pain relief, function enhancement, and OA progression.
- Protect your joints. Arthritis can be aggravated or caused by joint injuries. Pick arthritic-friendly exercises like swimming, biking, and walking. These low-impact exercises pose little risk of harm and do not twist or strain the joints. Find out more about safe exercise for people with arthritis.
Several different kinds of OA drugs can offer some relief. They consist of:
- Oral pain relievers: In contrast to other painkillers, acetaminophen (Tylenol) does not reduce swelling.
- Topical pain relievers: These over-the-counter medicines are offered as creams, gels, and patches. They can provide pain relief, especially for mild arthritis pain, by helping to numb the joint area.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) are NSAIDs that help with both swelling and pain reduction.
- Corticosteroids: These prescription medicines can be taken orally. Additionally, they can be injected right into a joint. Cortisone and triamcinolone acetonide are two examples (Kenalog-40, Zilretta).
- Cymbalta: Your doctor might advise you to take the antidepressant duloxetine (Cymbalta), which the FDA has approved for the management of musculoskeletal pain.
Your doctor may recommend an OTC solution.
Osteoarthritis vs. rheumatoid arthritis:
Despite having very different conditions, OA and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have many of the same symptoms. Because OA is a degenerative condition, its severity worsens over time. In contrast, RA is an autoimmune condition.
Immune systems in RA patients mistake the body’s soft lining around joints for a threat, leading the body to attack that region. The term “synovium” refers to this supple lining that contains synovial fluid. Fluid accumulates within the joint as the immune system begins its assault. This results in inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and pain.
If you’re unsure of what type of arthritis you have, your best option is to speak with your doctor. You could also conduct your own initial research. Examine the differences between RA and OA in more detail.
OA is a chronic illness for which there is no treatment. However, the outlook is favorable with treatment.
Don’t disregard signs of persistent stiffness and joint pain. Your chances of receiving a diagnosis, starting treatment, and improving your quality of life increase the sooner you speak with a doctor.