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Osteoarthritis: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

Causes and prevention of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis may be caused due to several risk factors as listed below:

  • Age is the most common reason for osteoarthritis. The chances of osteoarthritis increase with increasing age due to the deterioration of the joints with age
  • Overuse or “wear and tear” of the joint damages the joint cartilage and bone, leading to osteoarthritis.
  • Obesity which increases the stress on weight bearing joints (knees, hips, and spine) may also cause osteoarthritis.
  • A family history of osteoarthritis makes one more prone to osteoarthritis.
  • Fracture or surgical trauma to bones may also contribute to osteoarthritis.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis and other diseases of joints may accelerate the progression of osteoarthritis. So patients with a history of any other joint problems need to take special care.
  • Diabetic patients should be extra careful since any unnoticed injury/injuries may damage the joint and hasten the incidence to osteoarthritis.
  • Hormonal problems like disorders of thyroid and parathyroid glands could also be possible causes for osteoarthritis..

Osteoarthritis is not inevitable with age. It is a disease which can be prevented or delayed with certain lifestyle modifications like diet control and maintaining an ideal body weight. It is also advisable for females to increase their calcium intake, during and after menopause. Physical exercise is recommended not only to maintain weight but also to strengthen the muscles supporting the joint. Aerobic exercises are also useful. Take care of your joints by avoiding any overuse and longstanding repetitive joint movements.

Osteoarthritis: Complications

There is considerable disability due to restriction of movement of the affected joint. In osteoarthritis of knees or hips, limited joint movement may lead to hampering of daily activities such as walking and climbing and managing daily chores. Immobility may result in increased weight and therefore lead to associated problems like diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery disease. This may also lead to anxiety or emotional depression.

Osteoarthritis: Treatment

This condition is treatable but unfortunately not curable. Certain lifestyle modifications, medicines and surgical modalities can help in reducing the joint pain and stiffness. Lifestyle changes like losing excessive weight, regular exercise and increased calcium in diet are beneficial in the early stage of the disease. Aerobic exercises like swimming, brisk walking are helpful for people with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip joint. Muscle strengthening and muscle stretching exercises also help in supporting the affected joint.

It is advisable to consult your doctor if lifestyle modifications are not helpful in reducing pain and maintaining mobility. Occasional analgesics can be prescribed to alleviate pain. But no medicine can cure osteoarthritis. Injecting steroids into the joint can cause pain relief for a couple of months. Surgical treatment can be considered in patients with osteoarthritis of knee and hip, who have limited joint mobility and severe pain in spite of medical treatment. Joint replacement surgery can also be considered in which the damaged ends of bones are removed and replaced with artificial joints. The treatment of osteoarthritis depends on various factors like the joint involved and severity of the disease. Hence it is always advisable to consult the doctor for the appropriate treatment advice.

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