What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis ("OA") is a form of arthritis. It is the most common form and affects over 27 million people in the United States. This form of arthritis happens when the cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down. The purpose of the cartilage is to act as a protective barrier (cushion) between your bones. While the condition can occur anywhere on your body, it most often affects the joints in the hands, knees, hips, and spine. Once the condition occurs, it cannot be reversed. However, your symptoms can be successfully managed.
The condition is the result of your body aging. The cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones is necessary to ensure your bones don't grind together. Also, it's mostly a shock absorber for any impact that you put on your body. Cartilage is healthy, firm, and slippery, which makes it an excellent buffer between your bones. When the cartilage wears down, your bones can touch, causing pain, discomfort, and inflammation in the surrounding areas. In addition to cartilage breaking down, OA begins to affect your joints. Ultimately, the breakdown will cause changes in the tissues surrounding your joints, tissue, and bone as the loss of cartilage leads to a failure of the area. The progression of the condition is slow and gets worse over time. Below you will find some of the common symptoms of OA.
- Swelling: The soft tissue around your joints may become inflamed, which can cause swelling.
- Pain: You may experience pain or discomfort when you move due to the affected joints.
- Inflexible: Due to the joint pain and deterioration of the cartilage, you may lose flexibility in the affected area.
- Stiffness and Tenderness: If you are inactive for an extended period (including after you wake up in the morning), you may feel stiff. You may also feel tenderness if you apply any pressure to the affected joints after periods of inactivity.
- Discomfort: In addition to pain, you may experience a grinding feeling. You may also experience your joints popping or cracking when you move them.
What are the Risk Factors?
While the condition can impact almost anyone, certain factors place people at a higher risk. Below you will find some of the common risk factors to be aware of.
- Genetics: The condition can be inherited as genetics plays a significant role in this condition.
- Age: The risk of the condition increases with age. The wear and tear that is put on your body throughout life can impact how early you get the condition.
- Weight: For those who are overweight or obese, the extra body mass increases the burden placed on joints. This is especially true for joints in your ankles, knees, and hips as they bear the most impact when you move. Also, excess fat tissue can cause inflammation that negatively impacts joints.
- Sex: Women are more likely to develop the condition. The research has not proven precisely why this is the case, but women make up sixty percent of the 27 million people who have OA.
- Joints Stress and Injury: Repeated stress on your joints can cause OA. If you play a sport or have a job that has continuous and repetitive movements, it will place a disproportionate impact on your joints. Also, prior injuries to your joints can later increase your risk of developing OA.
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What are the Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis?
If you have joint pain or stiffness that doesn't go away, contact our office. We can help diagnose your issue and discuss treatment options with you. While we like to take a conservative approach to treatment, some patients may need more intensive care. Depending on your specific and unique needs, we can provide you with the support you need to treat your pinched nerve.
Initial treatment options at Yashar Neurosurgery for this condition begin conservatively. Dr. Yashar will prescribe medication and may use injection therapy, physical therapy, and pain management treatment. This will be catered to your unique needs as each patient is different. If conservative treatment is unsuccessful, Dr. Yashar may suggest surgery.
While you cannot entirely prevent OA, some measures can be taken to slow or delay the progression of the condition. Below you will find some preventative measures to delay OA.
- Weight: Maintain a healthy weight. Make sure your diet is filled with healthy proteins, vegetables, and fruits.
- Physical Activity: Stay active by exercising at least four times a week for thirty minutes. A low impact exercise is a great option. Yoga, Pilates, aerobics, or strength training area helps to keep your joint impact low.
- Movement: If you have a job that requires repetitive motions, or if you are sitting all day, try and move at least every hour. Walk to the bathroom, water fountain, or stretch in place. This can help keep your body moving and reduce the possibility of long periods of inactivity.
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