Osteoarthritis is caused when a protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down due to wear and tear. This is the most common type of arthritis affecting worldwide. It mainly affects the joints of your spine, knees, hips, and hands. The development of this disease can be controlled by being active and leading a healthy lifestyle. To improve the joint movement and pain certain medications are used.
People with osteoarthritis suffer with pain and joint stiffness. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis does not affect skin tissue, lungs, blood vessels and the eyes.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis:
The osteoarthritis symptoms usually develop very slowly and turn into a serious problem over time. Few symptoms are:
- Severe pain may occur in the joint after every movement.
- The first noticeable sign is joint stiffness that occurs while awakening and after being inactive.
- You might feel tender even by applying light pressure near the joint.
- Full movement of the joint is lost.
- You may feel grating sensation when you use the affected joint.
- Because of the soft tissue inflammation, swelling around the joint might have caused.
Who are prone to Osteoarthritis:-
People who have joint abnormalities by birth and those who are born with spine abnormality are more likely to develop osteoarthritis of spine. Obesity is another factor which increases the risk of OA of knee, hip and spine.
What is the cause of osteoarthritis?
It is caused when the cartilage, which is a slippery and firm tissue that cushions the bones inside the joints, starts deteriorating. The surface below the cartilage starts becoming rough. When the cartilage completely gets damaged the bones will be rubbing without a protective cushion. This is when you will have severe pain and discomfort.
- The main cause could be due to natural aging, your bones tend to grow weaker as you start aging.
- Researches also said that women are more prone to develop osteoarthritis than men.
- It may also cause due to obesity. Excess weight on the joint adds stress and pressure mainly on hips and knees. Proteins produced by fat tissues may cause inflammation around your joints.
- Injuries which occurred while playing or due to any accident will increase the possibility of developing osteoarthritis. Sometimes old injuries that happened many years ago may also cause osteoarthritis.
- Osteoarthritis can develop within the family members, indicating a hereditary (genetic) condition.
- Certain occupations demand more stress on joints, then you may eventually develop osteoarthritis. Some people are born with defective cartilage.
Diagnose of osteoarthritis
Orthopedic specialist diagnoses OA based on the tests like MRI or X-rays. This will help the doctor to confirm the loss of cartilage and bone spurs surrounding the affected joint. Also blood test and joint fluid analysis test is done to analyze joint or blood fluid levels in the bone.
Treatment for osteoarthritis:
The treatment given is to control pain, improvise joint functioning, to maintain correct body weight, and to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
Exercise is the best treatment for osteoarthritis. Exercises can decrease pain, increase flexibility and it improves the blood flow, controls weight and helps you to be fit and healthy. Walking, swimming, and aerobics are very good for people suffering from OA, they increase energy levels and stamina and reduce over weight. Frequent periods of rest for joints is also very important.
weight control is very important for OA. Losing weight will reduce stress on joints. Consult a dietitian for a healthy diet plan for reducing weight.
Alternative therapies: you may also follow alternative therapies to get relief from pain. Some methods to follow are –
- Heat and cold can be used for joint pain. Heat can be applied in various ways like warm bath towels, hot packs, and hot shower. These will help in blood flow, reduce pain and stiffness. Cold is applied in the form of ice packs, this will help reduce inflammation, reduce pain and numb the sore area.
- TENS is a small electric device. It relives some arthritis pain in some areas.
- Taking massage will increase blood flow and bring warmth to the pain area. The affected joints are very sensitive so the massage therapist must be aware of the problems of the person.
- Acupuncture is followed by some people when conventional medical treatment doesn’t provide pain relief.
- Nutritional supplements are given as required.
Pain and Anti-inflammatory Medications:
Medicines for osteoarthritis include:
Analgesics: This is a drug specifically for pain relief contains acetaminophen.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
These drugs are used to comfort soreness and related pain and inflammation. Examples for NSAIDs are ibuprofen, naproxen, and celecoxib. If these drugs are used for long term they may cause side effects like stomach pain, cardiovascular problems, bleeding problems, liver and kidney damage. If pain is bearable then better to apply gels which have fewer side effects.
Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs. They are taken orally or injected into the affected muscles for pain relief. These are not given more than three to four times per year. Oral corticosteroids are used occasionally for inflammatory flares.
Hyaluronic acid: This is an acid which naturally occurs in the joint fluid, it helps as a shock absorber and lubricant in the joint. When this breaks down in people with OA, the same is given as injection.
When medication and alternative therapies and treatments do not help then finally surgery is done to get relief from pain and disability of osteoarthritis. The final decision is taken on many factors like patients age, intensity of pain, level of disability, medical conditions etc. Surgery may be done to achieve one of the below:
- Arthroscopic debridement- this is done to remove any damaged cartilage or bone
- Osteotomy- repositioning of bones
- Resurfacing bones
- The surgeon will replace the affected joint with artificial joints called prostheses. These new joints are made up of metal alloys, high density plastic and ceramic metal.
Precautions during and after the treatment:
It is always better to understand your condition and learn how to manage it. So to overcome the OA problems you need to make few lifestyle changes that are affecting your present daily life.
- Exercising is a best way to lessen your joint pain and live a comfortable life. Do exercises to strengthen your muscles around your joint. If you experience any new pain then stop for some time as it may last for few hours. Till then rest yourself and then start with light stretches.
- Lose weight in a healthy way. Talk to your dietitian for better results.
- Follow therapies like Tai chi, Yoga and deep breathing gentle exercises to reduce stress.
- You can anytime take Hot and Cold therapy as these can relive you from joint pain and muscle aches.
- Braces and shoe inserts will help you while walking and standing. This will take the pressure off from your joint.
- If you find any swelling and pain after exercising then immediately put some ice on the joints. It will help to reduce pain.
- Aerobic, swimming are the best exercises to strengthen the muscles.
- Do not overdo any exercises beyond your tolerance limit.
Always take guidelines from your physiotherapist before starting any exercises. He will suggest you what kind of exercises can you do.