Osteoarthritis results from joint cartilage wearing out over time and is one of the most common forms of arthritis in adults. It’s most common in the knees, hips, spine, and hands. Inside a joint, cartilage acts as a cushion. It surrounds and preserves the ends of bones where they connect to from the joint. Unfortunately, osteoarthritis worsens over time and no cure is available.
Several factors increase the risk of osteoarthritis including being overweight or obese, joint stress, joint injury, and muscle weakness. Symptoms include joint pain, tenderness, stiffness, and loss of flexibility among others. Treatments include lifestyle changes such as resting more, avoiding activities that put stress on joints, wearing braces, along with proper controlled exercise and physical therapy. Medical intervention includes anti-inflammatory drugs and more serious medications. When pain becomes too severe, then joint replacement such as total knee replacement, total hip replacement, or hand microsurgery can be performed. All treatments need to be prescribed by a doctor after a thorough evaluation.
The best defense against osteoarthritis is to always protect one’s joints. This includes maintaining the ideal body weight to lessen pressure on the joints. Proper exercise to enhance flexibility, endurance, and strength is also essential. Pacing is important when exercising or doing taxing work. Ease into a workout especially when there is stress directly on the joints. Repetitive stress on joints over the long run can increase wear and tear. Finally, listen to your body. When it hurts, stop performing the activity and get rest.
Aging is the most noticeable predictor of osteoarthritis, but it doesn’t have to cause it. Taking care of your body and your joints will go a long way to keep them free of pain and maximize mobility throughout life.