Osteoarthritis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, and mechanical irregularities in the affected joint. The inflammation is not directly caused by OA, but it is not strange that arthritic joints swell. This is due to erosion of the joint tissue. OA may also create bone enlargements around the joints. This is often seen in people with arthritic hands.

For some people, OA is a little annoying. But for other, the disease is a serious, even disabling condition. OA can occur in any joint. It usually affects one or more of these areas: the hand, shoulder, neck, lower back, hip, and knee. The likelihood of OA increases as we grow older. It is estimated that nearly 75% of people over age of sixty will experience OA.

However, it’s important to say that osteoarthritis is not an inevitable part of the aging process. Remember that young people can also get OA. A normal joint cartilage is smooth, shiny, and wet. In a healthy joint, the cartilage-covered surfaces move against each other fluently with very little friction. Cartilage normally absorbs nutrients and fluid like a sponge, and this keeps your joints healthy and smooth.

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage does not get the nutrients and fluid it requires. With the time the cartilage dries out and develops cracks. Instead of moving smoothly like glass on glass, the roughened cartilage starts to move like sandpaper against sandpaper. There are extreme cases of cartilage loss, where it can actually be bone-on-bone contact within the joint.

In people over sixty five, osteoarthritis is the most common reason for limiting physical activity. This statistic is alarming the health care professionals. This is because the poor physical activity is implicated in a host of serious physical problems, from muscle and bone degeneration to heart disease. The quality of life suffers, too. By limiting mobility and functioning, OA can contribute to isolation and depression. As we said, osteoarthritis is not always associated with aging. Injury or abrupt impact can trigger the disease as well. Falls, car accidents, and sports injuries are often implicated in the onset of OA.

Traumatic osteoarthritis is a process that first causes degeneration of the cartilage and articular cartilage. Because the cartilage is no longer able to absorb shock, the joint is likely to become painful and feel stiff.

Extreme cases of OA may require a surgery. People with OA can directly influence the course of the disease through physical therapy and a regular program of exercises. A positive mental attitude can also work wonders in helping you maintain a degree of control over the disease.

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