One fact that people often neglect is that as they age, their body ages with them. Many of us, expect our body parts to be just as healthy and fit as they were 30 or 40 years past. Sadly, that’s not the case and there are several diseases that come with old age. As you get older, your body stops working like it used to before. You get sick easily, joints that you don’t even know about become a constant source of pain and suddenly you need a box of medicines just to keep everything together. One such ailment that strikes you as you get older is osteoarthritis.
What is osteoarthritis?
Though everyone knows what arthritis is, very few people know more degenerative form of this disease, known as osteoarthritis. This disease is also known as degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis. Though osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, it mostly affects joints in the knee, lower back, fingers, toes, and hips. To understand how this disease works, first, you need to understand how your joints work. In a healthy joint, cartilage covers the end of each bone so that your joints can glide one easily without any pain. When someone gets affected by osteoarthritis, the cartilage breaks down or wears away. Without any sort of cushion between the bones, these bones bump and grind against each other causing pain and discomfort. However, these are just the initial stages. As the diseases progress, bones may also start to break down due to the friction. These bones then develop growths called spurs. Further progression in the disease may lead to bits of bone and cartilage chipping off and floating around in the joint. That causes the joint to get inflamed and further damaged to occur to the cartilage. The final stage of the disease results in the cartilage wearing away completely.
People at risk for Osteoarthritis
This degenerative disease affects 27 million Americans in a year. Usually, people over the age of 65 develop this disease as they age. However, while some get afflicted with severe forms of the disease, others get more mild forms.
-People older than 65.
-People with previous joint injury
-People who overuse their joints like athletes
-People with weak thigh muscles
-People who have a genetic disposition for this disease
-People with knee or back injuries
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
1- Tenderness and localized pain
When you press any part of your body and feel discomfort in that certain area, that means that you are experiencing tenderness in that certain part of the body. If you feel tenderness while pressing down the skin above any joint that may be a symptom of osteoarthritis. Earlier stages of the disease may present tenderness without any sort of visible swelling but more advanced stages of the disease may present tenderness with more visible swelling over the joints.
2-Stiffness in Joints
Another symptom of osteoarthritis is stiffness in different joints of the body. While joint stiffness is completely normal after you have been immobile in the same position for an extended period of time, if you are experiencing joint stiffness that rises out of nowhere, then you need to see a doctor or.
3-Abnormal Sensations and noises
Every movement in your body is an action of different bones working together in perfect harmony. When diseases like osteoarthritis wear down your joints, you may begin to feel the sensation of bones rubbing against bones in your body. Besides the weird sensations, you may also begin to hear noises from your joints every time you move or crack your joints.
4- Loss of flexibility
Diminished flexibility is counted as another sign of osteoarthritis. If you notice join stiffness and loss of flexibility, then you may need to consult a doctor and get your screening tests done. Osteoarthritis often presents itself as a loss in the range of motion.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above then it’s time to visit a doctor or exercising on a treadmill may help to improve the flexibility.
Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis
If you feel like you’re suffering from osteoarthritis, your doctor may suggest you get an X-Ray taken so they can rule out any other causes of joint stiffness. X-Rays will give your doctor an idea of the damage that has occurred in your joints. Another test that can be used to determine this disease is known as joint aspiration. If the fluid has accumulated in your joints, then your doctor might insert a needle in your joints to draw out some fluid from the knee. Though blood tests are not used to determine osteoarthritis, blood tests can be used to rule out other type of arthritis. One way to improve this illness is by cycling.
Treatment of osteoarthritis
Since this disease wears away the cartilage on your joints making them more susceptible to breakages and pain, the treatment of this disease focuses on reducing the burden on your joints. Obese people are more likely to develop osteoarthritis because they have trouble in moving and hence their joints go through a lot of rug and tug. Obese patients suffering from osteoarthritis are put on a weight management system and asked to lose weight so that their joints are not under immense pressure. For patients whose weight is not an issue, they are advised to avoid activities such as exercise since their joints cannot take the extra strain. You can also use hot or cold compresses on the affected area for pain relief. Usually, patients are prescribed canes to help them walk so that some of the pressure is diverted away from their joints. If everything else fails, then your doctor may prescribe surgery.
Just like the knees, there are several shoulder conditions which may be harmful. Before getting any sort of treatment done, it’s extremely important to find a doctor than you can trust. One little mistake in a surgery can leave you crippled and in pain for life. So before taking the medical plunge, do your due research and place your trust in someone you know will free you from the debilitating pain of osteoarthritis.