Osteoarthritis is a painful condition that often stems from the wear and tear of aging. Other possible causes are injury and obesity. It causes the breakdown and loss of cartilage in one or more joints. Cartilage cushions the bones. When it wears down completely it can leave bone rubbing against bone. This can affect the hands, wrists, knees, back and hips. Osteoarthritis can also cause stiffness. There are many forms of arthritis but this one is the most common. Osteoarthritis is sometimes referred to as degenerative joint disease. There is no known cure for this condition and it’s progressive over time, meaning it gets worse. People with osteoarthritis may develop symptoms slowly over time. These symptoms can include pain, stiffness, tenderness, loss of flexibility, bone spurs and a grating sensation. People who experience pain, swelling or stiffness in joints lasting longer than two weeks should see a doctor.
It’s not clear what specifically causes osteoarthritis but a combination of factors is often cited. These include aging, prior injury, obesity, muscle weakness, joint stress and heredity. There are certain factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing this condition. Older adults and women are at more of a risk. People who are born with defective cartilage or joints may also develop osteoarthritis in their lifetime. People with old sports injuries and those who carry extra weight are also at risk. Repetitive stress injuries, such as those resulting from a particular job, activity or sport, can lead to osteoarthritis. Other diseases may also increase the risk. These include gout, rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis can make life quite challenging. Because it is degenerative, pain and stiffness can become worse over time. This can affect many aspects of a person’s life. He or she may become unable to perform everyday tasks or job duties. Some people may not be able to work because of limited mobility. Joint replacement surgery may become necessary in this case. An X-Ray or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can be helpful in determining osteoarthritis. Blood tests may be given to rule out other possible causes of joint pain. Analysis of joint fluid can also help to identify possible inflammation or infection.
Osteoarthritis treatment can help relieve pain and restore mobility. Acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and prescription analgesics such as Tramadol may be recommended for osteoarthritis sufferers. Cortisone shots can also relieve joint pain, but some people need something a bit stronger. Prescription painkillers such as codeine can provide relief for more serious cases of osteoarthritis. These prescription medications may have unwanted side effects such as constipation and possible dependence. Other possible treatments include: physical therapy, occupational therapy, chronic pain classes, joint replacement and bone fusing and realignment. Rest and exercise are important and patients may be advised to lose weight. They may also wish to explore hot and cold therapy, assisting devices and topical pain creams.