Osteoarthritis: When joint hurtsBernice Clark ▼ |
There are more than 100 types of arthritis conditions, and osteoarthritis is the most common. It affects the joints so let's take a look at them first. In every joint there are bones and protein substance called cartilage. It serves as a buffer zone that prevents the friction between bones. Without cartilage your bones would erode and cause you the pain and disability. And that is precisely what osteoarthritis is. As you became older it may happen that there is more water in your joints and less cartilage. That loss causes troubles in everyday life, and if at some point there's no cushion between the bones all, then we talk about very serious condition. Total loss of cushion causes friction between the bones, which leads to pain and limitation of mobility in joints.
However, osteoarthritis doesn't affect all joints in a human body: The most vulnerable are the hands, feet, spine, and large joints that have to carry weight of your body, such as knees and hips. It is unlikely that osteoarthritis will affect you jaw or shoulder.
There are two main types of osteoarthritis. The first type is called primary osteoarthritis and we just described it above. The second type is called secondary osteoarthritis - that means that osteoarthritis is a consequence of an inflammatory disease or trauma. Inflammation of the cartilage may cause the forming of new bone outgrowth in joint and since it normally doesn't belong there, it may cause problems.
What are the causes for osteoarthritis? The first one we mention, that's aging. Obesity is the second cause. If you are too heavy your joint suffer of too much weight. That put cartilage under stress and it disappear more quickly. Hormone disorder can also cause osteoarthritis, as well as repeated trauma, surgery of the joints, and diabetes. Some people are more prone to osteoarthritis because they were born with abnormal joints, and in some people crystals may deposit in cartilage, that cause degeneration, which in turn leads to osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is degenerative disease and that ugly word means that it worsen over time. The good side is that it is not a systemic illness, which means it doesn't attack the other organs, just one or more joints. The first symptom is pain the join (or joints). In the early stage of osteoarthritis the pain may appear after repetitive use of affected joints, after long time with little moving, like sleeping or sitting in the office for several hours. After some tome, as the cartilage degenerates more, moves become more painful and in the last stage the pain is here even at rest.
If you have stiffness or swelling in joints that lasts more than 15 days, go and see the doctor. There are several test that can confirm (or deny) osteoarthritis. The doctor will do X-ray image of the joints that make you troubles. X-ray image can show if the cartilage is degenerated or if there are new bone outgrowth that doesn’t belong there. With simple blood test the doctor can conclude is osteoarthritis cause by some other disease or is it primary osteoarthritis. The analysis of fluid in the joint will show if you have osteoarthritis or maybe some infection. And doctors can literally see what's going on: She can do arthroscopy. It is a procedure in which doctor cut your skin, insert a small camera in joint, and watch what's going on inside your joint.
Since osteoarthritis is a degenerative illness, there is no treatment that will repair the damaged cartilage. (Not yet, for that matter, since there are some advanced studies that deal with tissue regeneration, but there's sill long way to go.) So, you and your doctor have two goals: to maintain joint function and to control the pain. Since every patient is different, some of them fell no pain at all. They may have some signs of osteoarthritis but if they feel no pain and their joints work normally, there's no need for treatment.
Other patients may need conservative measures: They need to rest, reduce their weight, exercise, or they may use some supporting device if large joints are affected. Medications are used for reducing the pain, either taken orally or injected directly into join, and the last option is surgery. It is for patients with joints so damages that no other treatment helps.
With surgery a part of the bone can be removed, and in some cases the bones is replaced with artificial bone. We must say that the illness is different in every patient: Some of them will see the surgery, while others may have just minor problems for the rest of their life.
What can you do to prevent osteoarthritis? No much, but there are few things. The first and most important thing is to keep normal weight. That will lower the burden on your joints and lower the chances of osteoarthritis. Be in shape and exercise. That will make the muscles around joints stronger and they will take over the weight from the bones. Rest. Give your body enough time to recover from working day, it will help your joints, too. ■