In our last article, we briefly discussed Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. This article will take a close look at the cause, symptoms, and current treatment used for Osteoarthritis. So let’s take a second look at what Osteoarthritis is.
Osteoarthritis is known by many as “wear and tear” Arthritis. It is one of the most common forms of Arthritis and is the result of cartilage wearing away from the joints. This cartilage is responsible for the smooth gliding of joints, and once it begins to deteriorate, the patient is left with pain, joint swelling and inflammation, and even deformity.
Osteoarthritis patients usually state that their pain is greatest during times of movement, and then lessens significantly during periods of rest. Osteoarthritis affects many more women than men. There is an estimated 24 million Osteoarthritis sufferers in the United States and roughly 74% are women.
The cause of Osteoarthritis is not known, yet doctors have many suspicions. Some of the symptoms of Osteoarthritis boggle the minds of scientists and more research needs to take place to determine the actual root of the disease. For instance, X-rays can tell that Arthritis is present, yet the amount of pain reported by Osteoarthritis sufferers differs from the results of the X-ray. Though many people refer to Osteoarthritis as the “wear and tear” disease, evidence shows that this disease and its mysterious cause are not as simple as that definition. In fact, “wear and tear” does not take place in just one joint, but affects joints simultaneously throughout the body. An example of this, is that sufferers with Osteoarthritis of the knee, offer suffer Osteoarthritis in the hand. Also, doctors have noted that patients don’t suffer with Osteoarthritis on just one side of the body (as would be expected due to wear and tear) but because it seems to affect the body concurrently, it appears that Osteoarthritis is a systematic disease affecting all of the cartilage at once.
One suggestion is that Osteoarthritis is a result of cartilage that has stopped functioning at optimum level. Cartilage is continuously undergoing a process where it is broken down, then rebuilt. Some theories state that this process becomes unbalanced and out of hand. This is referred to as “End Stage Osteoarthritis.” It is at this stage that joint pain and impairment begin to manifest. There are many natural remedies that show promise in the management of Osteoarthritis pain and symptoms. Look for future articles in our Arthritis Series that will offer natural remedies that may prevent enzymes from damaging cartilage.
Some other ideas that point to the cause of Osteoarthritis include:
· Previous Sports related or Joint Injuries
· Genetically Inherited (it appears that Osteoarthritis runs in families)
· Repeated Occurrences of Bleeding into a Joint (as occurs with Hemophilia and other diseases)
· Repeated Occurrences of Gout and Gout like Diseases
· Avascular Necrosis- this is a condition where blood near a bone is cut off, this leads to bone death as well as joint damage. Avascular Necrosis typically afflicts the hip joint.
· Previous Rheumatoid Related Illness- such as Rheumatoid Arthritis can lead to chronic inflammation of the joints.
· Osteoporosis-due to the high risk of bone fractures and injury, Osteoarthritis may develop in joints.
· Metabolic Disorders- for example, Hemochromatosis can result in high levels of Iron being deposited in the joints
· Joint Infection-It is believed that cartilage may deteriorate in people who have defects in their cartilage and joints.
We’ve discussed the potential causes of Osteoarthritis, now it is time to look at the various symptoms of Osteoarthritis. The symptoms of Osteoarthritis include:
· Joint Pain- this tends to be worse when rising in the morning
· Joint Swelling and Inflammation- this occurs during periods of activity
· Feeling a “Grinding” Sensation when a Joint is moved
· Loss of Mobility and Flexibility
There is no sure way to prevent Arthritis in any of its forms. There are however some things that you can do to help lower your risk of developing Osteoarthritis or any other type of Arthritis. Some of the preventative methods that you may add to your lifestyle today include:
· Maintain an Ideal Body Weight
· Take steps to prevent the development of Osteoporosis. Some of these include taking adequate Vitamin D and Calcium, exercising, and taking medication if needed.
· Do your best to prevent injuring your bones and joints –try to avoid accidents such as sports related, implementing joint protection by using splints and braces.