Osteoarthritis, also called OA, is a type of joint condition that is caused by the breakdown of joint cartilage and the underlying bones. It usually involves joints that are proximal to the ends of the fingers, the base of the thumb, the neck, the hips, and the knees. Also, joints on one side of the body receive more affectation the those on the other side.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, osteoarthritis stands as the most common for of arthritis and it affects around 13.9 percent of adults aged 25 years and above and 33.6 percent or 12.4 million of people aged 65 years old and above in the United States in 2005, in addition to an estimated 26.9 million US adults in 2005 up from 21 million in 1990. Also, the average yearly prevalence of osteoarthritis in the ambulatory health care system in the United States from 2001 to 2005 was 3.5 percent, which accounts to 7.7 million.
Causes, Signs, and Symptoms
While elbows, wrists, shoulders, and ankles are the most common areas that are affected by osteoarthritis, the condition occurs less frequently, as per Arthritis. According to the publication, the exact cause of osteoarthritis is unspecified; however, joint damage can be caused by repetitive movement or wear and tear, or by injury. There mechanical traumas lead to the erosion of the cartilage, the joint part that protects the distal parts of the bones. Aging, being overweight, genetic defect in join cartilage, and mechanical stress placed on the joints are also factors that may lead to osteoarthritis, as per Medicine Net.
The usual signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain in a joint, swelling or tenderness in a single joint or more, feeling of stiffness following periods of inactivity like sitting or sleeping, and crepitus, a crunching feeling or a sound of bone rubbing on another bone.
Diagnosis and Management
Osteoarthritis is diagnosed through obtaining medical history, performing physical assessment, X-rays, and blood tests. Tests for the synovial fluid, the fluid in the joints, is also screened for proper diagnosis.
With regard to treatment of osteoarthritis, physicians usually stack treatments that suit the needs, lifestyle, and over all health of the patient. The treatment goals are geared towards improving joint function, keeping a healthy body weight, controlling pain, and achieving a healthy life, as per Medicine Net.
Physical activity stands as one of the most helpful ways in osteoarthritis management, as per Arthritis. This is because moving is viewed as an important part of the treatment plan. Moreover, studies revealed that simple physical activities like exercise classes or walking around the neighborhood can decrease pain and maintain a healthy weight. Strengthening exercises also permit muscle building around the affected joints, which helps relieve pain on those joints and decrease pain. Also, range-of-motion exercises contribute to the improvement of the flexibility and reduction of stiffness of the joints.
Since excess weight puts pressure and stress to weight-bearing joints like the back, hips, knees, and feet, weight loss programs can also help people relieve pain due to joint stress and prevent further joint inflammation and damage. This can be achieved by choosing proper foods, consuming less calories, and increasing physical activity.
For pain that is uncontrolled by non-pharmacologic measures, pain and anti-inflammatory medications are also available. These include analgesics, like acetaminophen, narcotics, and atypical opioids; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs like naproxen, ibuprofen, celecoxib, and aspirin; corticosteroids; and hyaluronic acid, which acts as shock absorber and joint lubricant.
With the aforementioned management of osteoarthritis, it is important for one to talk to his doctor if he is experiencing signs and symptoms listed above.