Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common degenerative joint disorder characterized by the gradual deterioration of the cartilage that covers the ends of bones in the joints. Cartilage is a smooth, slippery tissue that allows joints to move smoothly and without friction. When it wears away, bones start to rub against each other, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced joint flexibility.
- Here are some key points about osteoarthritis:
Causes: Most sources say that the exact cause of osteoarthritis is not always clear (and many blame aging). In my experience, people get OA when joints don’t move correctly over long periods of time. The bone panics and lays down more bone as a result. The resulting extra bone growths are called bone spurs or osteophytes.
- Symptoms: Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced range of motion. The symptoms may worsen over time, and they can affect any joint but are most commonly found in the knees, hips, hands, and spine.
- Diagnosis: Diagnosis is typically based on a combination of clinical evaluation, medical history, and imaging studies such as X-rays or MRI scans. Blood tests may be conducted to rule out other types of arthritis.
- Treatment: Again, most sources say that there is no “cure” for osteoarthritis, but I’ve found that lifestyle modifications (like stretching, weight management and exercise) and chiropractic do a great job of (at very least) negating the affects of it. In severe cases, surgical interventions like joint replacement may at least need to be considered.
- Lifestyle Changes: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial for managing osteoarthritis. Regular exercise helps strengthen the muscles around the joints and improves flexibility. Weight management is important, as excess weight can contribute to the progression of OA, particularly in weight-bearing joints.
- Joint Protection: Taking steps to protect the joints from excessive stress or injury can help manage osteoarthritis. This includes using assistive devices (like orthotics in the shoes, if needed, or a weight belt when lifting heavy), avoiding repetitive motions and practicing good body mechanics/ergonomics. Hopefully this is a helpful and clear format. If you have other specific questions, I’d be happy to answer them or look them up.