Click Here to Download Article as a PDF: Ultimate guide to Osteoarthritis
What is Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is defined a chronic condition in which you experience joint pain that can impact your life to different degrees including having less movement. It is considered multifactorial with the condition being influenced from many different aspects of your life including your work, mood and daily activities. Osteoarthritis can affect all type of joint tissues including ligaments, cartilage, bone, synovium and muscles. It is often described as wear and repair condition.
The cartilage around the joint often becomes thinner as well as rougher. This often causes the bone underneath to get thicker, as the bone tries to repair itself it trys to grow more bone to repair the damaged bone. Therefore you may develop growths/spurs called osteophytes. To try to promote a fluid movement at the joint the synovium (the lining at seperates the lining and capsule of your joint) produces more fluid. As it produced fluid it often builds up and this is why you often get swelling.
While it is often associated with older age it’s often caused by injuries steaming from increased demand on the joint which can be from a majority of causes including overuse, cancer or illness and obesity.
• Anyone but more commonly over 45yrs.
• If you have a family history of OA
• Previous injury to the joint
• Work – repetitive movements
• Joint damage from other illnesses.
• Pain for over 3 mnths
• Morning stiffness for less than hr.
• Grinding sensation in the joints
• Your muscles may feel weaker
Where does it affect?
The most common places is in your hip, lower back, knee, hand and foot.
Does it have to be painful? NO!! While may people experience pain from osteoarthritis is can often be asymptomatic.
How is it diagnosed?
Depending on the area of your pain the procedure maybe slightly different. Osteoarthritis can be diagnoses clinically by a health profession physically examining your joints as well as by imaging most commonly X-ray. However the radiology results do not and often don’t correlate to the level of pain and the effect it has on the patient’s life. You can have minor changes on an x-ray but experience a lot of discomfort equally the opposite can also happen, this is import to remember when have imaging done.
What can I do and what treatments are available?
While there no cure for osteoarthritis there are many different things you can do to help you manage and reduce your symptoms. A healthy lifestyle has been proven to improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis especially walking and swimming to increase cardiovascular fitness and increase muscle strength. You may also get benefit from decreasing the stress on your joint which can be accomplished through several factors including aids, footwear and weight loss. Many patients also will get relief from paracetamol, NSAIDS, co-codamol and glucosamine supplements.
Manual therapy from practitioners such as osteopaths and physiotherapists can also help by giving you advice, treatment and exercises.
You can download this guide at: The A State of Health Clinic’s Website.