Osteoarthritis is a very common progressive disease caused by excessive wear and tear of our joints. It usually affects people the latter half of their lives affecting most commonly the spine, hips, knees and hands.
Signs and symptoms:
In this condition, the cushioning structures of our joints i.e the cartilage which normally functions to allow our bones to glide smoothly over one another becomes worn with time.
Unfortunately with the lack of cushioning, the bones begin to rub together, causing inflammation at the joint surfaces swelling, pain and ultimately stiffness. This has a direct impact on the range of motion of the joints. In some severe cases, joint deformity can occur leading to poor alignment or Herberden’s node forming.
The eitiology of this condition is not conclusively known; but it is associated with aging. Although more commonly found in older populations, osteoarthritis can affect younger people as a result of a genetics (juvenile arthritis) or as a result of previous trauma to a joint, i.e a fracture. Experts deem that mechanical, chemical and metabolic factors may also play a considerable role in this process. Another important consideration is an individual weight; as many of the joint such as the knees and hips are weight bearing joints, excessive loading with obesity can speed up this degenerative process.
Work ergonomics and hazards may also cause excessive stress on joints leading to an acceleration of arthritis of such joints.
What may be the preventive cares:
- Try to avoid repetitive motions which may stress and wear joints down
- Exercising often will keep joints supple and lubricated
- Maintain a healthy weight and diet
- Gentle and regular range of motion exercises can definitely increase your flexibility and reduce stiffness at joints
There are many medications available, but among the most prominent:
1) Anti-inflammatory and non-steroidal drugs that can relieve you from your pain, swelling and inflammation. Although it is a good reliever of all these symptoms, its long term use can cause stomach problems, in the form of ulcers and bleeding and heart problems.
2) Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for reducing only pain, not inflammation. This also has some side effects including liver damage in alcoholic patients.
Advice from a medical practitioner should always be taken before taking any medication.