Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, in fact, almost everyone will develop this condition at some point in their lives. Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage that covers the bones inside the joints begins to wear away ad become thin. In some cases, the cartilage can wear away entirely.
Without cartilage to protect the bones, inflammation occurs and causes pain and swelling. Eventually the smooth surface of the joints become distorted and small pieces of cartilage and bones can break off and enter the joint. The pain from osteoarthritis can range from mildly uncomfortable, to severe and immobilizing.
There are some precautions you can take to reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis. By avoiding excessive stress on the joints, you can help prevent the cartilage from wearing away prematurely. And, if you do start to feel pain in your joints, early treatment can help lessen it’s affects.
Maintaining the ideal body weight can help protect your joints. Excessive weight puts more strain on the joints, especially the back, knees, hips and feet. By keeping your weight under control, you can relieve stress on the joints that causes the cartilage to wear out.
Maintaining good posture is another excellent way to keep your joints healthy. Bad posture habits exert more stress on the joints in the back, neck, knees and hips. Sitting and standing with the proper body alignment, reduces the stress that can cause premature osteoarthritis.
Exercise is essential in helping to prevent the development of osteoarthritis. It strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints that protects the joint cartilage. A variety of exercises are better for the joints than the same repetitive movements which can wear the cartilage away more quickly.
Periods of heavy exercise should be alternated with periods of rest, or less stressful activities. If you participate in weight training on one day, give your joints a break with lighter exercises such as aerobics on the next day. While a consistent exercise program is a good idea, it’s best to frequently change the types of exercises that you do.
One of the most common causes for osteoarthritis is injuries to the joints. Wearing the proper safety equipment can help reduce the chances of injuries. Helmets, knee pads, wrist pads and other protective types of gear may seem bothersome, but even the slightest injury can develop into serious problems in the joints.
There are several conditions that can affect the joints and only a doctor can properly diagnose osteoarthritis. The symptoms can include swelling in the joints, stiffness after sitting or immobility of the joint and noises when the joint is moved. And, you may even feel a roughness when the joint is moved.
Your doctor will need to perform a physical examination and consider the history of your pain. He may want to take x-rays to determine if there is any loss of cartilage or bone damage. He may even do an MRI to evaluate if damage has occurred to any joint tissues such as the ligaments.
If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, there are a number of ways that you can treat the condition. If you are overweight, you can begin a diet and exercise program to lose weight and relieve excess stress and strain on the affected joints.
While exercise may be painful if you have osteoarthritis it can actually help with the pain and even prevent it. Joints that are seldom used can become much more painful and even harder to use if they’re not exercised properly. Although, it might be hard or impossible to participate in heavy exercise, walking or climbing stairs can work the joints and prevent relieve pain.
Traditional home remedies can also be used to help relieve and prevent the pain of osteoarthritis. Ice packs, heating pads or even taking a hot shower or soaking in a tub can help. But, any home remedies should be discussed with your doctor.
Depending on the severity of your osteoarthritis, your doctor may recommend medications. There’s a variety of prescription medications that can be used and for mild or moderate cases, a doctor may recommend aspirin, acetaminophen or some type of anti-inflammatory drug.
For severe cases of osteoarthritis, your doctor might recommend a joint replacement. Joint replacements are usually only performed as a last alternative when the joint is severely damaged and can no longer function or the pain is so severe that you can’t perform daily activities.