Osteo-Arthritis Causes & Treatment
What is Osteo-Arthritis?
Arthritis is a general term that means inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is more likely to develop as people age. The changes in osteoarthritis usually occur slowly over many years.
Osteoarthritis is also called OA. A joint is where two bones come together. Cartilage is the rubbery material or protective tissue that covers the ends of the bones. With OA, this cartilage breaks down, causing the bones within the joint to rub together. This can cause pain, stiffness, and other symptoms.
Osteoarthritis can occur in the weight-bearing joints of the hips or in any joint. However, the most commonly affected areas of the body include the Hands, Fingers, Shoulders, Spine, Typically at the neck or lower back, hips, Knees
Osteoarthritis symptoms can usually be managed, although the damage to joints can’t be reversed. Staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and receiving certain treatments might slow progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function.
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Symptoms & Causes of Osteo-Arthritis
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis most often develop gradually and include:
- Joint aching and soreness, especially with movement
- Pain after overuse or after long periods of inactivity
- Stiffness after periods of rest
- Bony enlargements in the middle and end joints of the fingers (which may or may not be painful)
- Joint swelling
Causes of Osteoarthritis There are several factors that increase a person’s chances of developing osteoarthritis. These include:
- Heredity – Some people have an inherited defect in one of the genes responsible for making cartilage. This causes defective cartilage, which leads to more rapid deterioration of joints. People born with joint abnormalities are more likely to develop osteoarthritis, and those born with an abnormality of the spine (such as scoliosis or curvature of the spine) are more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the spine.
- Obesity – Obesity increases the risk for osteoarthritis of the knee, hip, and spine. Maintaining ideal weight or losing excess weight may help prevent osteoarthritis of these areas or decrease the rate of progression once osteoarthritis is established.
- Injury – Injuries contribute to the development of osteoarthritis. For example, athletes who have knee-related injuries may be at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee. In addition, people who have had a severe back injury may be predisposed to develop osteoarthritis of the spine. People who have had a broken bone near a joint are prone to develop osteoarthritis in that joint.
- Joint overuse – Overuse of certain joints increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis. For example, people in jobs requiring repeated bending of the knee are at increased risk for developing osteoarthritis of the knee.
- Other diseases – People with rheumatoid arthritis, the second most common type of arthritis, are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. In addition, certain rare conditions, such as iron overload or excess growth hormone, increase the chance of developing OA.
Diagnosis of Osteo-Arthritis
During the physical exam, your doctor will check your affected joint for tenderness, swelling, redness and flexibility.
Imaging Tests, To get pictures of the affected joint, your doctor might recommend:
- X-rays – Cartilage doesn’t show up on X-ray images, but cartilage loss is revealed by a narrowing of the space between the bones in your joint. An X-ray can also show bone spurs around a joint.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – An MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of bone and soft tissues, including cartilage. An MRI isn’t commonly needed to diagnose osteoarthritis but can help provide more information in complex cases.
Lab Tests, Analyzing your blood or joint fluid can help confirm the diagnosis.
- Blood tests – Although there’s no blood test for osteoarthritis, certain tests can help rule out other causes of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Joint fluid analysis – Your doctor might use a needle to draw fluid from an affected joint. The fluid is then tested for inflammation and to determine whether your pain is caused by gout or an infection rather than osteoarthritis.
Natural remedies for osteoarthritis
Regular exercise losing weight if you’re overweight. wearing suitable footwear. using special devices to reduce the strain on your joints during your everyday activities.
Alternative treatments and supplements may help to relieve symptoms such as inflammation and joint pain. Some supplements or herbs that may help include:
- fish oil
- green tea
Other alternative treatment options include:
- physical therapy
- massage therapy
The antioxidants found in many fruits and vegetables may also help counteract the free radicals produced by inflammation. Free radicals are molecules that can cause cell damage.
A high quality diet may help provide relief from OA symptoms by lowering inflammation and swelling. Eating foods high in the following can be highly beneficial:
- vitamin C
- vitamin D
- beta carotene
- omega-3 fatty acids
There is no cure for osteoarthritis. Mild to moderate symptoms are usually well managed by a combination of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatments. Medical treatments and recommendations include:
- Medications (topical pain medicines and oral analgesics including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, NSAIDs).
- Fitness Exercises
- Intermittent hot and cold packs (local modalities).
- Physical, occupational, and exercise therapy.
- Weight loss (if overweight).
- Healthy eating, managing diabetes and cholesterol.
- Supportive devices such as braces, orthotics, shoe inserts, cane, or walker.
- Intra-articular injection therapies (steroid, hyaluronic acid “gel”).
- Complementary and alternative medicine strategies, including vitamins and supplements.
Surgery may be helpful to relieve pain and restore function when other medical treatments are ineffective or have been exhausted, especially with advanced OA.
- Decrease joint pain and stiffness and delay further progression.
- Cartilage Supplement Tablets
- Lubrication Injections
- Stem Cell Therapies
- Arthroscopic Debridement
- Alignment Surgeries
- Total Knee Replacement
- Total Knee Replacement is recommended in very advanced / severe stages of OsteoArthritis
- Improve mobility and function.
- Increase patients’ quality of life.