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HomeBoneArthritisOsteoarthritis: Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Management of One of the Most Common...

Osteoarthritis: Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Management of One of the Most Common Forms of Arthritis

Arthritis is a very common condition that affects millions of adults all over the world. Approximately one in three people with arthritis have limitations on physical activity. It is misleading to refer that arthritis is one disease. Actually, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis. It is not usually a sudden-onset condition. The signs and symptoms are often slow to show but when they become pronounced, they are easy to diagnose as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

What is Osteoarthritis?

OSTEOARTHRITIS (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. It is often called a disease of wear and tear as it is very common in older people. This normally occurs when the body cannot repair damaged joint tissues. OA can occur at any age but is most frequently diagnosed in people over the age of 50.  The most common locations are weight-bearing joints such as hips and knees and also hands, feet, spine, and neck. The symptoms are pain on movement, joint stiffness, loss of motion, and grinding and crunching in joints. The swelling of joints may occur. 

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Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Joint pain: The pain may be in one particular joint and can be mild. It is often first noticed after exercise or when one puts weight or pressure on the joint. As the bone starts to rub on the bone, the pain becomes constant. 

Joint stiffness- Many people complain of stiffness in their joints, mostly in the morning, upon rising. This usually lasts for less than 30 minutes. This can also occur after a long car ride or even sitting for too long. 

Swelling of the joint- People are more likely to complain of swollen joints after participating in an activity that stresses the joint.

Muscle weakness- Muscle weakness occurs primarily as a result of lack of use. Often, the resultant pain reduces the amount of physical activity. This causes a loss of muscle strength. 

Deformation of the joint- The joints lose the cartilage that provides a cushion between the bones. This usually takes a long time to occur. So the deformation of the joints is often not noticed until years after the initial diagnosis. This can result in the bone resting on the bone, which can lead to the formation of bone spurs. The deformation is most obvious in the joints of the fingers. 

Reduced range of motion- The changes that occur in the joints can limit the range of motion. Muscle weakness also contributes to this problem. 

Risk Factors of Osteoarthritis

Age– This is the number one factor for OA. The older we are, the greater the likely hood that our joints will be affected by OA. 

Genetics- Another risk factor is the family history (mother, father, siblings). This is particularly true for OA of the joints in the fingers and hands. Currently, researchers are trying to determine the type of genes involved in OA.

Weight- A condition of overweight or obesity significantly increase the chances of OA in the hips, knees, and feet. It causes more stress on joints. Studies have shown that for each pound of total weight gain, hips feel like having gained six pounds and knees feel like having a three-pound gain. 

Gender- Women are more likely to develop OA, especially in their hands.

Injury- An injury to the joint or frequently performing the same repetitive movement can also lead to OA. Anyone who has broken a bone or torn the ligaments of a joint is more likely to have arthritis. OA might occur years after the initial injury, but it can occur. This type of arthritis is often seen in athletes, musicians, and people who do jobs that require them to repeat the same movement over and over again.

Lifestyle- Lifestyle factors like exercise, eating habits, and sleeping can influence the chances of developing arthritis, although it is not sure what role they may play. Scientists believe that OA is due to a systemic problem, not just wear and tear. 

Management of Osteoarthritis

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can play a central role in the management of the disease.  Exercising regularly, consuming a varied and balanced diet, getting 8 hours of sleep every night, and not smoking have all been linked to a lower risk of developing OA. Nutrition has an important role in the management of arthritis.

Although there is no diet or nutritional supplement that is proven to cure arthritis, there are foods that can have an impact on arthritis management, as well as nutritional and herbal supplements that may be helpful in most cases. Recent advances, especially in the development of new modern drugs and surgery, have made the medical management of OA more successful in meeting the treatment goal. However, optimal arthritis management involves more than drug treatments.

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