What is Osteoarthritis?

Ever felt the painful stiffness in your joints, slight friction in your bones when joints rub together? There might be a chance you have osteoarthritis. Living with lifelong conditions such as osteoarthritis can have drastic impacts on the lifestyle of the sufferers. The conditions arise when the protective tissue at the end of each joint break down. These protective tissues are known as cartilages which ensure painless and stiff-free joint movements.

Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition which usually affects elderly people. Since this condition is a degenerative joint disease, it can be found in adults of any age group but generally affects people from age 40 onwards. The disease goes by many names, including degenerative arthritis and wear-and-tear arthritis.

As per the recent medical studies and cases, 1 in 5 adults above the age of 45 in the UK suffer from this chronic disease with old age being the major factor. Since there’s no permanent cure for this condition, timely treatment and prevention are all you can do to avoid suffering osteoarthritis.

Major causes of OA: 

Long-accumulated damage is one of the significant factors of joint-damaging osteoarthritis. The older you turn, the higher is the joint wear-and-tear. Where the ageing process is one of the significant contributors to the occurrence of this chronic disease, factors such as torn cartilage, dislocated joints and ligament injuries can lead to this chronic illness.

Risk factors including family history, gender, obesity, poor posture and joint malformation also increase the chances of getting osteoarthritis. However, in some cases, your occupation could also lead to this condition. Continuous and repetitive stress on joints and muscles prematurely damages the cartilage. People who are involved in heavy-duty activities are more prone to developing conditions of stiffness and joint pain. Such activities include physical labour, kneeling, squatting and stair climbing and can impact hands, knees and hip joints.

Common symptoms of OA:

Since this progressive disease can occur to adults of any age, many people find out the symptoms increase and develop over time. Hands, fingertips, knees, hips, neck and lower back are the common joints that are affected by this chronic pain. Here is a list of some of the common symptoms that might indicate the occurrence of osteoarthritis:

  • Intense pain.
  • Tenderness in the aching area.
  • Stiffness of joints and ligaments.

As the disease develops and deepens its root in your joints and ligaments, the pain associated with it becomes more intense and discomforting. In severe cases, you might even have to suffer from swelling around the aching area or joint. The best way to mitigate the impacts and discomforts of this chronic illness is to identify the symptoms in the early stages and sign up for proper treatment and therapies.

Pain management and treatment strategies: 

The earlier you recognise the symptoms, the more effective the treatment will be. However, determining the type of treatment is an essential part of the diagnosis. Often people confuse OA with rheumatoid arthritis. RA is an autoimmune disorder which triggers the immune system to launch assaults on the soft lining around the joints. It leads to damage to the protective layer and synovial fluid which results in stiffness, swelling and inflammation.

When it comes to OA, it is a degenerative condition which increases in severity with the ageing process. Since OA is a pervasive disease with no cure, proper and well-managed treatment is the only way to escape the apprehensions of this disease. However, a healthy lifestyle and health-benefiting habits can mitigate the severity of this disease.

Here are some ways you can manage and reduce the pain of OA to greater extents:

  • Physiotherapy

Doing regular exercise on your joints helps to build up the strength around the joint , mainly the muscles, tendons and ligaments. This is the key treatment strategy and must be done on a daily basis to see the longer-term benefits. Although boring to most people, there is no other easy option to combat the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Please visit the Versus Arthritis website to search for specific joint exercises.

  • Weight loss:

Obesity is one of the major factors that can lead to several health issues. A healthy weight can ultimately help you in combating the symptoms and causes of OA, and it also reduces the risks of diabetes, blood pressure and heart diseases.

  • Adequate sleep:

Giving your muscles some rest and relaxation can help you in managing pain effectively. Resting your muscles and massaging your joints help in the reduction of inflammation and swelling.

  • Medications:

There are several medications and pain relievers that might help you in reducing pain and swelling. Some of the common analgesics include Paracetamol and Co-codamol. Steroid Joint Injections are becoming quite common in managing pain caused by OA. These injections are well-tolerated with zero side effect. Anti-inflammatory gels such as voltarol or ibuleve gel are very useful for hand and knee osteoarthritis. We would advise limited use of tablet anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen.

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