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Osteoarthritis


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the United States. It begins with the breakdown of joint cartilage, resulting in pain and stiffness. In advanced cases, there is reduction of mobility and nerve pressure

Etiology

There are two causes of osteoarthritis:

  • Natural breakdown of the cartilage as we age
  • Wear and tear due to traumatic events (either repetitive trauma over time or trauma that occurs quickly such as a sprain)

When the joint is damaged and the bones no longer articulate and move the way they used to, there is more wear and tear on the cartilage resulting in arthritic changes.

Osteoarthritis commonly affects the joints of the finger, knees, hips, and spine. Other joints affected, though less frequently, include the wrists, elbows, shoulders, and ankles.

Diagnosis

  • X-ray
  • Arthrocentesis: joint fluid is analyzed to rule out other types of conditions such as gout and infection
  • Arthroscopy: A tiny camera is inserted into the joint to view signs of Osteoarthritis

Symptoms

 

  • Joint pain and stiffness, usually worse as a day progresses
  • Pain may increase with changes in weather 
  • Joint swelling and heat sensation 
  • Creaking and cracking sounds
  • Difficulty in fully moving a joint
  • Bone spurs and neuropathies, including sciatica, in advance cases

Work-related repetitive injury and physical trauma may contribute to the development of problems. If a person has a strenuous job that requires repetitive bending, kneeling, or squatting, for example, he or she may be at high risk for osteoarthritis of the knee.

Home Treatment

Stop activities that cause more pain. Your physician may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling. Products that can relieve pain or swelling and assist in mobility include: 

 

  • Ice packs - Apply for 20 minutes at a time, 2-3 times a day, to reduce inflammation and ease pain. Cold therapy relieves pain and reduces inflammation more than heat treatments, but may not be as pleasing to the senses
  • Moist Hot Pads - Reduce inflammation, pain and stiffness with heat therapy
  • Massagers - Provide soothing stimulation to areas in the back that suffer from osteoarthritis
  • Pain Relieving Gels - Products such as Tiger Balm, Sombra, Flex-all 454, Salonpas, Koolnfit and Biofreeze penetrate to provide temporary relief
  • Mobility Aids - Offers security and stability to seniors with intense arthritic conditions.

Medical Treatment

 

If non-surgical treatment options don't work, or the problem is serious, then a surgical option may be necessary. Joint replacement (anthroplasty) may be recommended in which a surgeon replaces the entire joint.


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