OA or osteoarthritis is also called degenerative disease of the joints affect the joints of over 27 million Americans This chronic condition of the joints is found to commonly affects the joints in the knees but can affect any joint in the body like the lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe.
The joints are covered by cartilage a firm rubbery material which provides a cushion between the bones and allows for a smooth surface to facilitate easy joint movement.
It has been found that can be genetic, persons born with certain traits can make them more likely to develop OA. One such possibility is a rare defect in the body’s ability to produce collagen, the protein that makes up cartilage. Without sufficient collagen can cause osteoarthritis to occur as early as age 20.
How the bones fit together so that cartilage wears away faster than usual is another inherited defect that can cause the early onset of OA.
The gene called FAAH, previously linked to increased pain sensitivity, is found to be higher in people with knee OA than in people who don’t have the disease.
Being overweight is also another cause of OA the extra weight puts additional pressure on hips and knees. And carrying around extra pounds for a long time can cause the cartilage that cushions joints to break down faster.
Research has shown there is a definite link between being overweight and having an increased risk of osteoarthritis
Injury and overuse:
Repetitive movements or injuries to joints can have an adverse effect on the joints Athletes sometimes repeatedly damage joints, tendons, and ligaments, which can speed cartilage breakdown.
There are certain careers that can cause the cartilage to wear and tear away faster these would include any profession that requires standing for long periods of time, repetitive bending, heavy lifting or other movements.
Also, imbalance or weakness of the muscles supporting a joint can also lead to altered movement and eventual cartilage breakdown in joints.
.As the OA disease becomes worse over time, bones may break down and develop growths called spurs.
Bits of bone or cartilage may chip off and float around in the joint.causing an inflammatory process whereby and proteins and enzymes develop that further damage the cartilage.
The final stage of OA, the cartilage wears away and bone rubs against bone leading to joint damage and more pain.
There is no known cure for osteoarthritis but there are some things we can do to minimize the pain improve joint movement.
Even though the thought of physical activity may be the last thing on our minds due to the pain when our joints are moving yet it is one of the most beneficial ways to manage OA. As the saying goes use it or lose it, that makes it more important to get moving.
Studies show that simple activities like walking around the neighborhood or on a treadmill or even taking a fun, easy exercise class can reduce pain and help maintain a healthy weight.
Strengthening exercises build muscles around OA-affected joints, easing the burden on those joints and reducing pain.
Range-of-motion exercise is moving your joints in a different direction and this helps to maintain and improve joint flexibility and reduce stiffness. Aerobic exercise like cycling helps to improve stamina and energy levels and also help to reduce excess weight. It is best to talk to a doctor before starting an exercise program.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that everyone, including those with arthritis, get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
Being obese adds additional stress to weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, knees, feet, and back. Losing weight can significantly help people with OA reduce pain and limit the further joint damage. for losing weight is to Eating fewer calories and increase physical activity is the basic way of losing weight.
Slow, gentle stretching of joints may improve flexibility, lessen stiffness and reduce pain.
Pain and Anti-inflammatory Medications
There are different kinds of medications that can help in the relieving of pain in OA patients some can be bought over the counter and there are others that have to be prescribed and or administered by your doctor. They include:
- Analgesics. called tramadol. They are available over-the-counter or by prescription.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). includes aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and celecoxib they are the most commonly used drugs for inflammation and pain. They are available over-the-counter or by prescription.
- Corticosteroids. Corticosteroids is steroid hormones that are produced in the adrenal cortex of vertebrates, or man-made.
- Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory medicines. They are taken by mouth or injected directly into a joint at a doctor’s office.
- Hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in joint fluid and acts as a shock absorber and lubricant. It is also made by bacteria in a lab.
- However, in people with OA, the acid appears to break down and an injection of synthetic hyaluronic acid is given to the patient. The injections are done in a doctor’s office.
Physical and Occupational Therapy
There are also many ways and things that Physical and occupational therapists can educate you on, like the different method you can use to manage your pain including:
- Ways to properly use joints
- Heat and cold therapies
- The range of motion and flexibility exercises
- Assistive devices
Fortunately, there are many devices that can help with our function and mobility. These include items, such as scooters, canes, walkers, splints, shoe orthotics or helpful tools, such as jar openers, long-handled shoe horns or steering wheel grips. Many of these devices can be found at pharmacies and medical supply stores. But some items, such as custom knee braces and shoe wedges are prescribed by a doctor and are typically fitted by a physical or occupational therapist.
Natural and Alternative Therapies
Many people with OA use natural or alternative therapies to address symptoms and improve their overall well-being. These include nutritional supplements, acupuncture or acupressure, massage, relaxation techniques, and hydrotherapy, among others.
Joint surgery can repair or replace severely damaged joints, especially hips or knees. A doctor will refer an eligible patient to an orthopedic surgeon to perform the procedure. I think this should be the last option after trying everything else but as usual, your doctor is the best person to advise you.
And remember to think and stay positive, many studies have shown that a positive outlook can boost the immune system and increase a person’s ability to handle pain.
In conclusion being diagnosed with osteoarthritis is not the end of the world , yes its painful and yes it can sometimes limit your mobility but we (I say we because I also have been diagnosed with OA) and I can say as a fact-light exercises and stretches is the best medicine for OA there are also natural supplements that I have taken which has helped me that is Tumeric Curcumin but remember before adding any form of supplement to your diet it is best to consult your Doctor.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post it is greatly appreciated and should you have a question or comment please leave it in the space provided at the bottom of this page and I will get back you ASAP
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I have left a link to an easy exercise video from Silver Sneakers hope you