If you think osteoarthritis is the disease of the old, you may be wrong. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease where the cartilage in the joints wears down over time. Any joint could be affected, but the majority of the OA occurs at the joints on the hands, knee, hips, lower spine or neck.
The most common OA symptoms include pain, tenderness at the joint area, stiffness in the morning or after resting for long hours and the feeling of creaking at the joints. These symptoms occur slowly and worsen with time. As the condition gets more severe, bone protrusion around the joint area may be formed.
Know what is Osteoarthritis
In most cases, the exact cause of the osteoarthritis is unknown. However, some risk factors have been identified to contribute to the wear and tear of the joint cartilage and lead to OA. Women have a higher risk of developing OA with an unknown reason. OA usually occurs in older adults, rarely in people under the age 40. For those younger individuals, genetic conditions where the joints or the cartilage is malformed could increase the likelihood of developing OA. Besides, any injuries to the joints due to sports or accidents may also cause OA, both in young and old people. Obesity is another risk factor in OA development as more stress is incurred on the weight bearing joint especially the knees.
Check whether you have Osteoarthritis
If you always suffer from pain in your joints, do have a check with your healthcare professionals. X-ray is the most common non-invasive method to determine the degree of cartilage loss in the joints and is also to rule out possibilities of other joint or bone problems. There is no blood test to diagnose OA but blood test results are important to reveal other diseases which could resemble symptoms of OA, for example rheumatoid arthritis (an auto-immune condition of the joints). Other tests include drawing fluid out from the joint using needle (a procedure called arthrocentesis) to exclude the possibilities of gout of infection as the cause of joint pain and swelling.
Treat Osteoarthritis Today
Non-surgical method to treat osteoarthritis:
- Viscosupplementation (Hyaluronic Injection) – Lubricant injection to the joint.
- Anti-inflammatories – Reduce inflammation to the joints.
- Physiotherapy – Trains certain sets of muscles to build strength to the joints.
Surgical intervention to treat severe osteoarthritis:
Exercises to Prevent Osteoarthritis
Light exercise such as biking or swimming is often recommended as these exercises could strengthen the muscles around the joint. Exercise also helps to reduce weight, which could in turn relieve some pressure on the joints thus relieving pain.
Avoid any forms of exercise if your joint is injured or swollen. Always rest your joints whenever there is pain or doing any repetitive movements that involve the joint. Besides, the use of assistive devices such as walking sticks allows for normal movement while reducing stress on the joints.
Glucosamine Helps Osteoarthritis
The use of glucosamine supplements alone has yielded some promising results in scientific studies. More well-designed studies are required to prove conclusively the benefits of these health supplements on OA prevention or treatment. Nevertheless, do check with your healthcare professional before using any health supplements for OA.