Arthritis is the inflammation of joints, causing pain, swelling, and tenderness that degrades with age. It is an age-related disease, most likely to be found in the older age group, and also affects young individuals. There are different types of arthritis but commonest of all are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
In this article, I will be sharing essential information about osteoarthritis and its treatment.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the tissues situated at the ends of a bone, known as the protective cartilage, start wearing down and eventually leads to rubbing or friction of bones within the joint. Protective cartilage serves as a cushion between bones around the joints.
As we grow old, it gradually worsens over time. It is the most common and long-lasting disease. Inflammation in joints leads to loss of cartilage, although this does not happen over-night, gradually as the cartilage wears down, there are pain and difficulty in the movement.
Commonly affected joints are Hands, knees, hips, and spine.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
The exact cause of this condition is not known. A few studies have stated the following cause as the reason behind osteoarthritis.
- Injury – Injuries cause the development of osteoarthritis. For example, a person who plays sports or any outdoor games may be at high risk of suffering from knee osteoarthritis because he/she is likely to suffer from knee injuries as they are at risk of frequent falls and they overuse their joints. Sometimes people who have had a fracture previously can also suffer from osteoarthritis.
- Age – Osteoarthritis typically starts from the age of 40. Due to aging, changes occur in our bodies over time, and there is a weakening of the muscles, weight gain being another addition. The ability of our body to heal itself gets altered.
- Gender – Osteoarthritis is severe and common in women.
- Obesity – Overweight and obesity is another factor in causing osteoarthritis because our weight puts pressure on the weight-bearing joints. (Hip and knee)
- Heredity – Due to an inherited defect in one of the genes responsible for making cartilage, it gives rise to defective cartilage, which gradually leads to the deterioration of joints. Some people are born with joint abnormalities, the reason why there is a development of osteoarthritis.
- Diet – A proper diet is another factor, as it helps us add necessary nutrients to our daily intake of food. If we consume unhealthy food, gaining weight is highly expected, and then we are most likely to suffer from this disease.
Risk Factors of Osteoarthritis
Following are the risk factors of osteoarthritis:
- Family History
- Past injuries of joints or bone tissues
- Birth Defects
- Muscle soreness or weakness
- Spine deformities
How Osteoarthritis is diagnosed?
During the physical examination, the physician will check if you have swelling, stiffness, tenderness, and joint inflexibility. Following tests are done to detect osteoarthritis:
- X-Ray – Bone spurs and cartilage loss id by using this method, hence the doctor advises getting an x-ray done.
- MRI – It helps to see clear and detailed images of cartilage, bone, and soft tissues
How Osteoarthritis is treated?
Treatment is carried out in three ways Medical, therapeutical, and surgical.
1.Medical treatment – Medicines help in treating osteoarthritis, mainly advised for pain management.
- Acetaminophen helps in relieving mild to moderate pain.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen cure osteoarthritis pain.
- Duloxetine is an anti-depressant but also approved by the doctor to treat chronic pain.
Dosages should be as suggested by the physician.
2.Therapeutical treatment – Two therapies in the treatment of osteoarthritis:
- Physical therapy – The approach of this therapy is to treat with exercises and electronic modalities. It helps in strengthening the muscles around your joint, reduce pain, and increase flexibility.
- Occupational therapy – The approach of this therapy is different. In this therapy, the therapist helps you discover ways to do daily activities and work that causes less stress on the joints.
3.Surgical treatment – Injections, osteotomy, and joint replacement (arthroplasty) are three types of surgical approach.
- Lubrication injections and cortisone injections – These injections only help in pain relief. The doctor numbs the area around your joint, then inserts a needle into space within your joint, and then medicine is injected.
- Osteotomy – When a surgeon cuts across the bone either above or below the knee, it is called an osteotomy. After this, a wedge of bone is either added or removed. It shifts the body weight from the damaged part of your knee. This surgical approach is when one side of your knee is more damaged than the other.
- Joint replacement (Arthroplasty) – In joint arthroplasty, your damaged joint surfaces are removed and replaced with plastic and metal parts.
It is always advisable to see your physician before blindly following any treatment protocol.
Remember, Our Health is the real wealth!