Osteoarthritis facts •Osteoarthritis is a joint inflammation that results from cartilage degeneration. •Osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, heredity, and injury from trauma or disease. •The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain in the affected joint(s) after repetitive use. •There is no blood test for the diagnosis of osteoarthritis. •The goal of treatment in osteoarthritis is to reduce joint pain and inflammation while improving and maintaining joint function. What is osteoarthritis? Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that features the breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage of one or more joints. Cartilage is a protein substance that serves as a "cushion" between the bones of the joints Primary osteoarthritis, osteoarthritis not resulting from injury or disease, is mostly a result of natural aging of the joint. With aging, the water content of the cartilage increases, and the protein makeup of cartilage degenerates.. Secondary osteoarthritis is a form of osteoarthritis that is caused by another disease or condition. include obesity, repeated trauma or surgery to the joint structures, abnormal joints at birth (congenital abnormalities), gout, diabetes, and other hormone disorders. . Osteoarthritis: Symptoms The symptoms of osteoarthritis tend to develop slowly. You may notice pain or soreness when you move certain joints or when you've been inactive for a prolonged period. The affected joints may also be stiff or creaky. Typically, osteoarthritis leads to morning stiffness that resolves in 30 minutes. When osteoarthritis affects the hands, some people develop bony enlargements in the fingers, which may or may not cause pain. Osteoarthritis: Where Does It Hurt? In most cases, osteoarthritis develops in the weight-bearing joints of the knees, hips, or spine. It's also common in the fingers, thumb, neck, and big toe. Other joints are usually not affected, unless an injury is involved. Osteoarthritis: What Causes It? Every joint comes with a natural shock absorber in the form of cartilage. This firm, rubbery material cushions the ends of the bones and reduces friction in healthy joints. As we age, joints become stiffer and cartilage is more vulnerable to wear and tear. At the same time, repetitive use of the joints over the years irritates the cartilage. If it deteriorates enough, bone rubs against bone, causing pain and reducing range of motion. Risk Factors You Can't Control One of the major risk factors for osteoarthritis is something none of us can control – getting older. Gender also plays a role. Over age 50, more women than men develop osteoarthritis. In most cases, the condition results from normal wear and tear over the years. But some people have a genetic defect or joint abnormality that makes them more vulnerable. Risk Factors You Can Control Because injured joints are more vulnerable to osteoarthritis, doing anything that damages the joints can raise your risk. This includes sports that have a high rate of injury and jobs that require repetitive motion, such as bending the knees to install flooring. Obesity is another risk factor – it has been linked specifically to osteoarthritis of the knees and hips. Impact on Daily Life Osteoarthritis affects each person differently. Some people have few symptoms despite the deterioration of their joints. Others experience pain and stiffness that may interfere with daily activities. If bony knobs develop in the small joints of the fingers, tasks such as buttoning a shirt can become difficult. Osteoarthritis of the knees or hips can lead to a limp. And osteoarthritis of the spine can cause debilitating pain and/or numbness. Diagnosing Osteoarthritis To help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis, you'll need to describe your symptoms in detail, including the location and frequency of any pain. Your doctor will examine the affected joints and may order X-rays or other imaging studies to see how much damage there is, and to rule out other joint conditions. In many cases, blood tests are used to rule out other forms of arthritis. Long-Term Complications Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis does not affect the body's organs or cause illness. But it can lead to deformities that take a toll on mobility. Severe loss of cartilage in the knee joints can cause the knees to curve out, creating a bow-legged appearance (shown on the left). Bony spurs along the spine (shown on the right) can irritate nerves, leading to pain, numbness, or tingling in some parts of the body. Treatment: Physical Therapy There is no treatment to stop the erosion of cartilage in the joints, but there are ways to improve joint function. One of these is physical therapy to increase flexibility and strengthen the muscles around the affected joints. The therapist may also apply hot or cold therapies such as compresses to relieve pain. Supportive Devices Supportive devices, such as finger splints or knee braces, can reduce stress on the joints and ease pain. If walking is difficult, canes, crutches, or walkers may be helpful. People with osteoarthritis of the spine may benefit from switching to a firmer mattress and wearing a back brace or neck collar. Medication for OA When osteoarthritis flares up, many patients find relief with over-the-counter pain and antiinflammatory medication, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. Pain-relieving creams or sprays can also help when applied directly to the sore area. If pain persists despite the use of pills or creams, your doctor may suggest an injection of steroids or hyaluronans directly into the joint. Supplements Overall studies suggest no benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin – supplements available at pharmacies and health food stores touted for relieving pain and stiffness for people with osteoarthritis. Check with your doctor before using chondroitin, especially if you take blood-thinners. Osteoarthritis and Weight If you're overweight, one of the most effective ways to relieve pain in the knee or hip joints is to shed a few pounds. Even modest weight loss has been shown to reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis by easing the strain on weight-bearing joints. Losing weight not only cuts down on pain, but may also reduce long-term joint damage. Osteoarthritis and Exercise People with osteoarthritis may avoid exercise out of concern that it will cause pain. But low-impact activities such as swimming, walking, or bicycling can improve mobility and increase strength. Training with light weights can help by strengthening the muscles that surround your joints. For example, strengthening the quadriceps can reduce pain in the knees. Ask your doctor or physical therapist which exercises are best for you. Is Surgery for You? If osteoarthritis interferes significantly with everyday life and the symptoms don't improve with physical therapy or medication, joint replacement surgery is an option. This procedure is used on those with severe OA and replaces a damaged joint with an artificial one. The knee and hip are the joints that are replaced most often. Preventing Osteoarthritis The most important thing you can do to ward off osteoarthritis is keep your weight in check. Over the years, extra weight puts stress on the joints and may even alter the normal joint structure. Preventing injuries is also important. Take precautions to avoid repetitive motion injuries on the job. If you play a sport, use proper equipment and observe safety guidelines. Hamstring Stretch Warm up with a five-minute walk. Then, stretch. Lie down. Loop a bed sheet around your right foot. Use sheet to help pull and stretch leg up. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat twice, then switch legs. Stretching is one of three important types of exercises for knee OA. Range of motion or stretching exercises keep you limber. Strengthening exercises build muscle strength to stabilize weak joints. Aerobic exercises, like walking, help lung and heart fitness. Calf Stretch Stretching exercises loosen muscles, improve flexibility, and help prevent pain and injury. Use a chair for balance. Bend your right leg. Step back with left leg, slowly straightening it behind you. Press left heel towards the floor. Feel the stretch in your back leg. For more of a stretch: Lean forward, bending the right knee deeper. Don't let the right knee go past your toes. Hold for 20 seconds. Do twice, then switch legs. Straight Leg Raise To try this leg strengthening move, lie on the floor. Prop your back up on your elbows. Bend your left knee, keeping foot on floor. Keep the right leg straight, toes pointed up. Tighten thigh muscles of your right leg. Slowly and smoothly use your thigh muscles -- not your back -- to raise your leg. Pause, as seen above, for five seconds. With thigh still tight, slowly lower leg to ground. Relax. Repeat 10 times. Rest. Do another 10; then switch legs. Quad Set Is the straight leg raise too tough? Do quad sets instead. With these you don't raise your leg. Simply tighten the thigh muscles, also called the quadriceps, of one leg at a time. Start by lying on the floor. Keep both legs on ground, relaxed. Flex and hold left leg tense for five seconds, as seen in right-hand photo. Relax. Do two sets of 10. Then, switch to other leg. Seated Hip March This move can strengthen hips and thigh muscles to help with daily activities, such as walking or rising from a chair. Sit up straight in chair. Slightly kick back your left foot but keep toes on the floor. Lift your right foot off the floor, keeping knee bent. Hold right leg in the air five seconds. Slowly lower your foot to the ground. Repeat 10 times. Rest and do another 10, then switch legs. Too hard? Use your hands to help raise your leg. Pillow Squeeze This move helps strengthen the inside of your legs to help support your knee. Lie on your back, both knees bent. Place a pillow between knees. Squeeze knees together, squishing pillow between them. Hold for five seconds. Relax. Repeat 10 times. Rest, then do another set of 10. Heel Raise Hold back of chair for support. Stand straight and tall. Lift heels off ground and rise up on toes of both feet. Hold for five seconds. Slowly lower both heels to ground. Repeat 10 times. Rest. Do another 10. Too hard? Do the same exercise, only sitting in a chair. Side Leg Raise Hold back of chair for balance. Place your weight on left leg. Lift right leg out to the side. Keep right leg straight and outer leg muscles tensed. Don't slouch. Lower right leg and relax. Repeat 10 times. Rest. Do another 10, then repeat with left leg. Too hard? Increase leg height over time. After a few workouts, you'll be able to raise your leg higher Sit to Stand Practice this move to make standing easier. Place two pillows on chair. Sit on top, with your back straight, feet flat on floor (see left). Use your leg muscles to slowly and smoothly stand up tall. Then, slowly lower yourself back down to sitting. Be sure your bent knees don't move forward of your toes. Try with arms crossed (see left) or loose to your side. Too hard? Add pillows or use a chair with armrests and help push up with your arms. One Leg Balance Your goal is to do this hands-free. Steady yourself on a chair, if needed. First, shift your body weight to one leg but do not lock your knee straight. Slowly raise the other foot off the ground, balancing on your standing leg. Hold for 20 seconds. Lower raised foot to the ground. Do twice, then switch legs. This move helps when getting out of cars or bending. Too easy? Balance for a longer time. Or try with your eyes closed. Step Ups This move helps strengthen your legs for climbing stairs. Face a stable step, both feet on the ground. Step up with your left foot. Follow with your right foot. Stand on top, tall and with both feet flat. Climb down in reverse: right foot down first, then left. Do 10 times. Rest, then repeat another 10 times. Then repeat, starting with right leg first. Too hard? Use a railing, wall, or lamppost for balance. Or try a lower step. Walking With stiff or sore knees, walking may not seem like a great idea. But it's one of the best exercises for knee arthritis. It can reduce joint pain, strengthen leg muscles, and improve flexibility -- and it's good for your heart. The best part -- no gym membership needed. Good form is key: Look forward, walk tall. Keep arms and legs moving, relaxed. Always ask your doctor before starting exercise when you have osteoarthritis. Low-Impact Activities Being active may also help you lose weight, which takes pressure off joints. Other exercises that are easy on the knees: biking, swimming, and water aerobics. Water exercise takes weight off painful joints. Many community and hospital wellness centers, YMCAs, and pools offer classes for people with arthritis. Don't give up favorite activities, like golf. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about modifying painful moves. How Much Exercise? Start with a little. If you can do it without pain, do more next time. Aim for 30 minutes a day. Over time you'll build your leg muscles to support your knee and increase flexibility. Some muscle soreness is normal, but hurting or swollen joints need rest. Take a break and ask your doctor's advice. Ice painful joints and take acetaminophen or an anti-inflammatory pain reliever, like ibuprofen or naproxen, if your doctor says it's OK.
© Copyright 2018