Osteoarthritis in Men

This Type of Arthritis is More Common in Men

Physical therapist inspecting man's arm
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Arthritis is a common condition that affects millions of men. Osteoarthritis, in particular, is more common in men. Here is what men should know about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment options for osteoarthritis.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a term that describes a degenerative disease of the joints. It is the most prevalent form of arthritis in the U.S., affecting over 20 million adults.

More than 50 percent of all people over the age of 65 have some evidence of osteoarthritis.

The term "osteo" means bones, and "arthritis" means inflammation. Most osteoarthritis, however, is not caused by inflammation, but by deterioration of the cartilage in the joints. It is most commonly caused by aging. Overuse of joints and trauma are also common causes.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Wear and tear on the joints usually causes pain, stiffness, creaking and warmth in the affected area. The most frequently used and weight bearing joints are the most susceptible, namely the hands, knees, hips, shoulders, spine and the big toe. The severity of symptoms varies greatly, even when the damage appears about the same on X-ray.

Diagnosing Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is usually diagnosed with a physical exam, an X-ray or arthroscopy, which is when a small camera is inserted into the joint space to view the damage.

 An accurate diagnosis is important, as it is possible for other diseases to produce similar symptoms. Gout, diabetes, congenital bone or joint abnormalities, trauma, hormone disorders, and obesity may all have similar impacts on joints.

Treatment Options

The main goal of treatment is prevention of further damage, reduction of joint pain and any inflammation and maintenance of joint function.

Some options include:

  • Physical Activity: Exercise can be one of the most beneficial treatments for osteoarthritis. Strengthening exercises build strength around affected joints, which eases the burden on those joints and can reduce pain. Range of motion exercises can help with stiffness, and aerobic exercise helps improve stamina and energy levels. Studies show that even just simply walking can help ease joint pain.
  • Weight Reduction: Reducing your weight reduces stress on the joints, especially the knees. It is advisable to anyone who is overweight or obese, as extra weight can make osteoarthritis worse.
  • Complimentary and Alternative Treatments: Taking a glucosamine and chondroitin food supplements can help with joint stiffness and pain and are thought to protect joints already affected by osteoarthritis. The supplements can be purchased over-the-counter from drug and health food stores. Fish oils capsules have been shown to reduce inflammation due to the omega 3 fatty acids.
  • NSAIDS: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Aleve or ibuprofen, can be very effective. There are gastrointestinal side effects with some of them. Consult your doctor if this is the case.
  • Heat and cold: Heat treatments, wax or warm water soaks and bed soaks at night can all help treat affected joints locally. Some people find a cold compress for 20 minutes at bedtime can help.
  • Steroid injections: Administered by a doctor, injections can help reduce severe pain and swelling but usually need to be repeated.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgical joint replacement or fusion of joints may be required.

With proper care, you can ease osteoarthritis symptoms and live a normal and fairly pain-free life.

Source

Arthritis Foundation. (n.d.). Osteoarthritis Treatment. Retrieved March 14, 2016.

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