If you hear your joints crackle, you feel stiff, pain and find it difficult to move in situations that used to be” a piece of cake”, osteoarthritis may be the cause. But what is osteoarthritis? How can you do to deal with it? Osteoarthritis happens to be the most common joint disease, especially more among women than in men. It increases with age, so after the age of 65, 3 out of 4 people suffer from osteoarthritis while more than 85% of them have findings in x-rays of their joints even before getting any symptoms.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, a chronic disease affecting millions of people. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of our bones wears down over time. Even though it can damage any joint, it most often affects joints in our hands, knees, hips and spine, as these carry most of the body weight and are more involved in manual or physical work. Although the symptoms can be controlled, the damage is irreversible.
Most common symptoms you shouldn’t ignore
Swelling appears at the most affected joints. They tend to swell after intense or prolonged activity. Due to the inflammation that develops you may notice redness and slight swelling around the joints.
Stiffness, on the other hand, is usually felt in the hips, knees and lower back after remaining inactive for a prolonged period of time. Patients often experience it upon waking up in the morning or after periods of rest, or remaining seated. As soon as one starts moving the pain eases.
When you start to hear your joints crackle when you move, then your body is probably trying to tell that something is wrong! You may also get a feeling of friction while making various movements, especially in the knee area, when bending or kneeling.
What should you do when you experience such symptoms?
Try to stay active, maintain a healthy weight and some treatments might help slow down progression of the disease and improve pain and joint function.
Our own body tries to repair the damage itself often by creating new ‘bone’! These are the so-called “osteophytes” visible in the finger joints as small bumps. Of course this is not sufficient enough as these exert more pressure to the surrounding nerves, causing a painful condition.
Non-medication treatments are usually recommended in the beginning to improve the symptoms of the disease. They may include such as rest, weight loss and physical therapy. However, in severe cases after a series of diagnostic tests your doctor will prescribe you the necessary medication.
Physical exercise is the most effective way to. As strange as it may sound, do not let pain discourage you from increasing your physical activities. It is very significant for a successful treatment. You should not exaggerate, either. Avoid strenuous exercises and opt for mild activities, such as walking, swimming or a mild workout at your local gym. Movement strengthens the muscles that surround the bones, thus helping to reduce the strain on the joints and relieve the pain.
Follow a healthy diet. Obesity can cause serious effects. Try to maintain a healthy weight to reduce the extra pressure on the joints especially the hips, knees, legs and lower back. However, some people often complain of fatigue and feeling constantly tired. Consult your doctor for the proper diet you need to follow and if necessary he may suggest some supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, two substances normally produced in the body, but as we age their levels decrease. Such supplementation contributes to the health of the joints and delays further cartilage damage.
By making some simple changes in your daily routine, you will feel the symptoms recede. Don’t postpone your visit to Eversharp Physical Therapy Center, one of our specialized PT, will help you deal with your osteoarthritis and enjoy a good quality life for years to come!