Osteoarthritis - The Wear and Tear Arthritis

By Guest Editor on Oct 27, 2017

Osteoarthritis, arthritis, degenerative joint disease and "wear and tear arthritis" is a common problem that affects about 30 million people in the United States.

This disease mainly affects the spine, knees, hips, hands; however, can be found in other places like big toes, and other joints.

Arthritis is mainly a breakdown of the joint, cartilage and tendons/ligaments of the joints it affects.

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms for osteoarthritis include pain, swelling, stiffness or decreased range of motion. 

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please visit your doctor.

Risk Factors

There are many risk factors that can play a role in the diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Some of these can include:

Age - after 50 years old, there is a higher risk of developing arthritis.

Genetics - some people are more prone to developing arthritis, as it runs in families.

Obesity - carrying extra weight adds additional wear and tear (stress) on the joints, which can lead to arthritis changes especially in the knees and hips.

Prior Injury - prior injury of joints or overuse of certain joints can accelerate arthritic changes in the knees and hips.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of osteoarthritis can be done through physical exams, history of activity and genetics, x-rays or other radiologic modalities. Sometimes blood work tests can diagnose arthritis. 

Treatment

There are multiple avenues for treatment of osteoarthritis, including but not limited to:

Physical activity is very important in the management of arthritis. It is recommended to get at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly, with moderate exercises such as swimming, walking, biking, etc. This will keep body weight down and muscle conditions in good shape. 

Medication can be prescribed, and over-the-counter pain relievers can help with discomfort. 

Physical therapy, guided by a professionally trained therapist, can help with specific arthritis. Therapy on a regular schedule, focusing on strengthening exercises will increase mobility and balance.

Weight loss will significantly help to reduce pain, swelling and further wear and tear on joints.

Supportive devices like canes and walkers offer more stability for someone who has limitations in their joints due to arthritic changes. 

Surgery is a last option if all other treatments have not offered any relief. An orthopedic specialist makes the evaluation and recommendation for surgical options. 

Although there is no way to reverse arthritis, if you've been diagnosed, there are things you can do to manage your condition. Becoming more physically active, beginning a physical therapy program and losing weight are great ways to properly manage arthritis so that you may continue to live a happy, active and productive life.