A Look into Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis that occurs in 1/3 of adults 65 and older in the United States. This disease is commonly called “wear and tear” arthritis. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage of the joints breaks down, causing common osteoarthritis symptoms to occur such as pain, swelling, tenderness of the joints, stiffness after a period of inactivity, flare-ups and pain after a period of activity, and a crunching sound and sensation from the rubbing of bones.

Osteoarthritis is most commonly found in the spine, hands, fingers, knees, and hips.

Research has not found the specific cause of osteoarthritis yet. However, there are some things that would increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Age is a strong factor that can determine whether or not you get osteoarthritis. Those who are older are more likely to get osteoarthritis. Gender is another determinant. Although this disease affects men and women, osteoarthritis are more commonly found in men before the age of 45, and more common in women after the age of 45. If you are involved in labor that is highly physical, over time, you have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis either from a traumatic injury or repeated pressure on your bones. Obesity plays a large role determining whether or not you get osteoarthritis. Because of the amount of body weight that you constantly put on your joints, the chances of getting osteoarthritis are significantly higher.

The knee is specifically affected because it is a major weight-bearing joint. Those who have joints that do not move or fit together, such as dislocated hips, bowlegs, and double-jointedness, are more likely to develop osteoarthritis in their joints. Osteoarthritis is also a suspected hereditary disease.

One of the genes that is responsible for the production of cartilage may be with defect.

Osteoarthritis can be a result from a repetitive movement (a.k.a “wear and tear”) or a traumatic injury. When you have osteoarthritis, there is erosion in the cartilage of your joints. Cartilage is the part of the joints that covers the ends of the bones. Cartilage is the "shock absorber" that allows your joints to move slowly. Over time, along with repetitive movement, the cartilage breaks down and the ends of the bone start to thicken. This may cause the joint to lose its normal shape and the ends of the bone would start to rub against each other. This rubbing causes the pain.

There are many ways to get relief from osteoarthritis. Sometimes, it does not need to come in the form of a prescribed medication. Eating well and exercising daily can impact the arthritis symptoms vastly. This would particularly help in obese or overweight patients. Some examples of exercises that have been known to help with osteoarthritis include aerobics, physical therapy, strength training, and stretching.

A specific group of medication called NSAIDS can reduce the amount of pain and inflammation from osteoarthritis.

Some examples (prescribed and over-the-counter) include ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, sulindac, ketoprofen, and piroxicam. Another group of medications called DMARDs can slow down the joint damage of the arthritis. One of the most commonly used DMARDs includes methotrexate. For some strange reason, we have observed that antidepressants can reduce the amount of pain from osteoarthritis. Although it is unclear how antidepressants can affect the level of pain experienced, many believe it is because of how the antidepressants affect the brain chemicals. One of the more severe options for the treatment of osteoarthritis is surgery. There are many different types of surgery that can be tried, depending on the location of your pain. Some surgeries that will help with this disease include arthroscopy, anthroplasty (joint replacement), joint fusion, or osteotomy.

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