By Joan Weems, Victory Home Health, Texoma LIVING WELL Magazine
Osteoarthritis (OA) Facts
- OA is a joint inflammation that results from cartilage degeneration.
- One in two people in the U.S. will experience some form of OA in their lifetime.
- OA can be caused by aging, heredity, and/or injury from trauma or disease.
- OA accounts for more than 50% of arthritis cases in the U.S.
- The most common symptom is pain in the affected joint(s) after repetitive use.
- OA is more common in women than men.
- There is no blood test to diagnose OA.
- The goal of treatment of OA is to reduce joint pain and inflammation while improving and maintaining joint function.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis in the U.S. Approximately 27 million adults have reported being diagnosed with OA by their doctor. While the cause of OA is unknown, it occurs when cartilage in joints breaks down over time. Often called “wear and tear” arthritis or degenerative joint disease, OA is most commonly found in the knees, hips, hands, neck or spine, though it can occur in any joint. In the back it is often seen as degenerative disc disease.
Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Pain. Your joint may hurt during or after movement.
- Tenderness. Your joint may feel tender when you apply light pressure to it.
- Stiffness. Joint stiffness may be most noticeable when you wake up in the morning or after a period of inactivity.
- Loss of flexibility. You may not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion.
- Grating sensation. You may hear or feel a grating sensation when you use the joint.
- Bone spurs. These extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, may form around the affected joint.
Causes of OA
While the causes of OA are still unknown, the risk of developing OA increases as you get older. You are also at risk if you:
- Have someone in your family who has OA
- Are overweight
- Repetitively overuse a joint
- Have previously injured a joint
Treatment of OA
While there’s no way to reverse the cartilage loss of OA, there are many ways to treat the pain. You may be able to manage OA pain effectively with an integrated treatment approach that includes positive lifestyle changes and anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs. NSAID stands for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, a class of pain relievers that come in both prescription and over-the-counter strength.
There are many options available when it comes to managing arthritis pain. Widely accepted guidelines from both the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) suggest taking an “integrated approach,” by combining a medication with other recommended therapies.
- Losing weight can make a difference when it comes to arthritis knee pain. In fact, for every pound you lose, you remove about four pounds of stress from your knees. Following a balanced diet while exercising regularly can help you lose weight and reduce stress on your joints.
- Staying active can help keep your joints flexible, reduce pain, and improve your ability to move. Low-impact activities like swimming or water aerobics can be good options because they put less stress on your joints. Stretching exercises, strength training, and aerobic exercise may also help to ease arthritis pain. However, you should discuss any new routine with your doctor before starting.
- Studies on acupuncture have shown that it may relieve arthritis pain and improve physical function.
- Nutritional supplements and natural remedies, when taken correctly, may also be beneficial. However, some of these may interfere with other medicines you are taking or even make your arthritis pain worse. So before you try adding a supplement, talk to your doctor. Glucosamine and chondroitin have been used but studies have been mixed on these nutritional supplements. A few have found benefits for people with osteoarthritis, while most indicate that these supplements work no better than a placebo. Don’t use glucosamine if you’re allergic to shellfish. Glucosamine and chondroitin may interact with blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) and cause bleeding problems
- A physical therapist may be able, through use of electrical stimulation, massage, heat and exercises, to help you reduce your arthritis pain and also can recommend special equipment to assist with reaching, walking, eating, etc.
Many people find they are no longer able to perform personal care, i.e., take a bath, shower, shampoo hair, after years of OA and need a home health aide to assist in their care.
Victory Home Health & Hospice plus Medical Equipment can help meet these needs. We also have special equipment and aids in our store to assist the OA person. Call or come by any of our 12 locations.