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OSTEOARTHRITIS A “Wear-and-Tear” Disease

Fast facts:

  • Affecting millions of people worldwide, most common form of arthritis
  • Occurs when protective cartilage that cushions ends of your bones wears down over time
  • Mainly affects hands, knees, hips and spine
  • Symptoms can be managed by various methods and medications but the damage to joints can not be reversed

What is Osteoarthritis (OA)?
It is a chronic, non-reversible degenerative joint condition that affects millions of people worldwide and is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the joints of hands, knees, hips and spine (mainly cervical and lower back). A joint is where two bones come together and are protected by a firm, slippery cushion called cartilage. Once the cartilage starts to wear down, bone will meet bone and eventually start rubbing against each other, causing pain. Osteoarthritis affects the entire joint, causing changes in the bone and damaging surrounding connective tissues and causing inflammation of the joint lining.

The joint pain and stiffness associated with OA is severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. As a result of this pain and disability, depression and sleep disturbances are common.

Types of OA

  • Cervical Osteoarthritis, also known as cervical spondylosis
  • Spinal Osteoarthritis
  • Hand Osteoarthritis
  • Knee Osteoarthritis
  • Hip Osteoarthritis

What are the symptoms of OA?

  • Pain
  • Tenderness and muscle weakness
  • Stiffness, decreased range of motion
  • Inflammation
  • Swelling in the joints and surrounding areas
  • Joint instability
  • Bone spurs

Risk Factors of OA:
Osteoarthritis is also known as the “wear and tear” disease, meaning as you get older it is common to be diagnosed with OA.

  • Women
  • Obesity (increased weight adding additional stress on joints)
  • Joint injuries acquired from accidents or sports that occurs gradually over the years from repeated stress
  • Genetics
  • Bone deformities (malformed joints or defective cartilage)
  • Metabolic diseases (diabetes and hemochromatosis)

How is OA diagnosed?
The first signs your doctor will look for is tenderness, swelling, redness and flexibility of your affected joints. Further testing confirms the diagnosis.

  • Imaging tests such as X-rays and MRIs
  • Blood tests to rule out other causes of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Joint fluid analysis to rule out gout and other infections

You are diagnosed with OA, now how do you treat it?
Osteoarthritis does not have a cure, once your cartilages are worn and torn, it’s nonreversible. However, your symptoms can be managed with medications and other forms of treatment.

  • Pain management – your doctor may recommend you try OTC medications as first line treatment before prescribing higher doses for pain management.
    • Acetaminophen – for mild to moderate pain – oral and topical
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – Ibuprofen, Naproxen – oral and topical
    • Antidepressant – Duloxetine (Cymbalta). Although this is an antidepressant, it can also be used to treat chronic pain
    • Corticosteroids both in oral and injection forms
  • Gentle stretching exercises
  • Massage therapy using hot or cold compresses
  • Supplements to help relieve symptoms such as inflammation and joint pain
  • Fish oil, ginger, glucosamine, green tea
  • Realigning bones and bone replacement surgery (arthropathy)

How can you prevent OA?

  • Take care of your body, wear supports and proper shoes when exercising or running.
  • Give your body enough rest time and sleep well.
  • Healthy diet – incorporate fresh vegetables and fruits in your everyday meals
  • Watch your weight.

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