What is Osteoarthritis?

What is osteoarthritis and what causes it? Is there a cure and treatment available? Perhaps these are the most common questions you will hear from a patient diagnosed with the disease. Generally, people are familiar with the term arthritis. You know that it is the inflammation of the joints. But most are not familiar with the term osteoarthritis, although it is the most common type of arthritis among the elderly.

There are millions of people suffering from osteoarthritis around the globe. Age, gender and genes are the most common predisposing factors. As a person ages, the chances of getting the disease gets higher. More women than men are afflicted with arthritis. Younger people who get the disease are said to have acquired it due to heredity.

Osteoarthritis is also known as wear and tear arthritis. The cartilages are mainly affected in this type of arthritis. The cartilage serves as a cushion in between joints to prevent friction in normal joints. But in osteoarthritis, the cartilages lose their elasticity and become stiff. This makes them prone to damage and leads to wearing away. A worn away cartilage would cause bones to rub against each other causing inflammation and pain.

Some of the symptoms you need to watch out include movement accompanied by joint pains and aches. Sometimes you can feel pain after long periods of being inactive or not moving at all. Joints can also feel stiff after a few hours of rest. Moderate symptoms include swelling, tenderness and inflammation around the joints. These affects mobility and range of motion of the affected joints. The more severe symptoms will include joint deformities and inability to move.

What is osteoarthritis mode of diagnosis? Your doctor will base the diagnosis on some tests and x-rays. Sometimes an MRI is also requested in order to have a better look at joint and the components around it. The way you describe your symptoms and the physical exam performed will also play an important role in arriving at a conclusive diagnosis.

There are several treatment options for people suffering from osteoarthritis. They vary from the simple conservative medications to the more aggressive procedures such as surgery. NSAIDS or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly prescribed. Analgesics are also given to alleviate pain from inflamed joints. Steroid and hyaluronate injections are also given to patients to relieve pain and inflammation in the affected joint. When all other treatments have been exhausted and have stopped working, surgery is considered.

There are several surgical procedures that can be performed. It can be as simple as replacing one component of the joint or as complicated as replacing all its components. Your doctor will evaluate your condition if you are a possible candidate for surgical procedure. He will also help you in deciding the best possible procedure for you.

Treatment will also include regular exercise that will help you maintain range of motion and help strengthen the muscles around the joint. Eating a nutritious diet can also help in bone health and maintain ideal weight.

These are some of the basic but important things you need to know on what is osteoarthritis.

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