Arthritis Concerns: Diagnosing And Treating Osteoarthritis

Tips on symptoms, treatment and other important points concerning osteoarthritis.

Nearly 21 million people in the U.S. have osteoarthritis. It's a very painful disease that will emphatically announce its presence.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. When present in the body, changes will occur in both the cartilage and bones of the joints. The most common sites to be affected will be the knees, hips, spine, small joints of the fingers, and the base of the thumb and big toe.

Normal joints have a padding or cushion commonly known as cartilage which allows the joint to move smoothly and painlessly. However, as we grow older, we have a tendency to ignore our body's basic needs. We forget to do things in moderation.

We eat a little too much, we work in the garden a little too long or we pound our feet on the pavement as we jog our way to a healthy lifestyle. Although these are normal activities, when done in excess they are providing the proper environment to allow the cartilage to break down, tear and fill the joints with fluid Osteoarthritis can also be inherited and passed on from one generation to another. It affects both men and women. It is more common in men up to age 55; beyond that age it is more common in women.

Although the symptoms are severe, the disease is very treatable. The first medication chosen to treat osteoarthritis is Acetaminophen or Tylenol for the pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs can also be used to reduce the pain and swelling but will not prevent further damage. Cortisone may also be injected into the joint to relieve severe swelling. Another treatment is Viscosupplementation, which is a clear gel that is injected into the knee and lubricates it, reduces pain and allows greater movement of the knee.

How Can I Help Myself?

You can help yourself by being kind to your body and also by becoming familiar with the disease. Spend time at the library or on the internet.

Exercise is essential to maintain a normal life when affected by osteoarthritis.

It will also stabilize your weight. Less weight=less strain on the joints.

There are three different types of exercises.

1/Range of motion to reduce stiffness.

2/Strengthening exercises to maintain or increase muscle strength.

3/Endurance exercises to strengthen your heart give you energy and control your weight.

These include walking, swimming and cycling.

Heat and cold can also be used to treat the symptoms. Heat will relax your aching muscles and help reduce joint pain and soreness. A hot shower may just get you moving again and save the day! A cold pack will also help to lessen the pain and swelling in a joint. Just put it where it hurts and let it do its magic!

Of course there is only so much we can do to control the symptoms.

When all else has failed, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove bits of cartilage from the joint. Or he may suggest repairing parts of the bone or replacing the entire joint.

Whatever method you choose, you can be assured that medical technology is the best it's ever been on this planet. It's ready and waiting to make your life more comfortable.

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