Having a properly functioning body without any severe impediment is something that happens to be taken for granted so easily. This is because most people do not value what they have until they don’t have it anymore. In this case, it is good health and the ability to go about your day without being held back by your own body.
As life passes by, old age gradually begins to catch up with you. Your body does not function at the same level as it used to – compare to your past days. The days when your physicality used to be at its peak are over. This happens to be the story of millions of people worldwide who get older and fall victim to different kinds of complications. However, the most common disease found to be affecting the greatest percentage of these people is osteoarthritis.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of arthritis found today in the world. It is a chronic joint condition, which means the effects of this disease take a lot of time and effort to overcome. The ends of our bones are covered by cartilage, which is a protective tissue found throughout the body. Due to osteoarthritis, this cartilage is broken down, making the bones at the joint come into contact and rub against each other. This degenerative joint disease can happen in adults of any age, but it is definitely more common in the elderly.
The damage done to the joints by osteoarthritis can build up over time and worsen, which explains why it is more common in older adults. The older you are, the greater the wear and tear your joints have gone through. However, old age isn’t always the reason a person has to endure this disease. Some people are born with a hereditary shortcoming in their genetic code.
The fault could very well be in one of the genes that controls cartilage production in the body. Hence, the quality of the cartilage being made would be lackluster, causing a faster deterioration of the joints. This disease can also occur in the spine if a person is already suffering from a genetic disorder affecting the arrangement of their spine.
Apart from genetic reasons, the chances of osteoarthritis also increase with obesity. The excess body weight adds to the pre-existing stress on the joints. Obesity affects the knee joints, in particular, causing pain and worsening it if you already have osteoarthritis. However, there is also the possibility that you may have a healthy ratio of body fat and still have osteoarthritis. This is because people tend to overuse their joints, in some cases, due to having a very physically challenging lifestyle. The overuse of joints can lead to injuries and contribute to developing this disease.
Various symptoms can be observed amongst the patients of osteoarthritis. The particular joints affected by this disease can give unimaginable pain levels during or after movement. The joints also become stiff after a period of inactivity.
Extra bits of bone can form around the joints, which usually feel like lumps. This makes a swelling, and the soft tissue around the joints becomes inflamed, which can lead to a loss of flexibility in the joint. You may not be able to move the affected area in its full motion as you may have previously been able to do so. Likewise, it might also give weird sensations where the joints make unnatural sounds of popping and cracking. You can learn about ways to keep your joints healthy as you age, as it can help you prevent osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis Diagnosis and Treatment
The first step on the lengthy road to osteoarthritis treatment is a proper diagnosis. It is always best to visit the doctor if you feel like there is never-ending pain and stiffness in your joints. Osteoarthritis could very well be the cause. The diagnosis of this disease depends on multiple factors, the evident symptoms, and the area which has been affected. It usually takes an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis. An MRI might also be performed in the scenario where the X-ray fails to pinpoint the problem.
A combination of treatments usually addresses osteoarthritis. In most cases, the pain is treated with the help of medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can relieve the pain when taken in the right doses. They are also available in the form of gels, which have a relatively lesser number of side effects.
Physical therapy is also very effective with the right exercises. This is because it strengthens the muscles that surround the affected joint and helps to improve movement. It is recommended to participate in gentle activities that minimize joint pressure, such as swimming and slowly walking on flat surfaces. Occupational therapy can help you discover different ways to adapt to everyday life without putting much pressure on the joints. In some cases, osteoarthritis can become very severe, so surgical procedures come into play. You may get cortisone injections, which numb the area around the joint. An osteotomy may be helpful if one side of the joint has been relatively more affected than the other side. A very last case scenario would be a joint replacement where the damaged joint is removed and replaced by plastic and metal pieces.
Regardless of the treatment that you opt for, it is never a bad idea to take precautionary measures to avoid getting yourself in such a situation in the first place. If you have to go through this disease due to genetic reasons, you can’t help it. However, if you are in a position where it is in your control, you should do your utmost to prevent this disease from catching up with you as you grow older. The best way about it would be to exercise daily and keep your weight in an optimum range. Moreover, it would be best to appreciate what you have so you don’t ever take your body health for granted and put it at risk.
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