Joint Osteoarthritis: Causes and Treatments

Posted on 26. Oct, 2012 by in Osteoporosis

Osteoarthritis is a subtype of arthritis. It is a degenerative disease that affects people who are in their 60s and up. The disease is characterized by weakening of the joints, cartilages, and subchondral bone. As osteoarthritis or OA develops, sufferers experience locking of the bones, joint pains, stiffness, and tenderness. Severe cases may include effusion or accumulation of fluid.

Causes of Osteoarthritis

As a person ages, the bones become naturally weak and vulnerable to different types of dysfunctions including joint osteoarthritis especially if the person receives poor nutrition. Among its most common sites are the fingers, knees, hips, and spine.

Osteoarthritis occurs due to the exhaustion of cartilage, which serve as a cushion between bones. When this happens, the bones tend to run with one another causing them to deteriorate fast. Fluid accumulates in the affected area and bone spurs appear. This could lead to painful movement and even disability.

Risk Factors

Old age is not the only reason for developing joint osteoarthritis. Observations suggest that females are more likely to develop the disease when they reach the age of 40. Aside from this, other risk factors include:

  • Injury or trauma
  • Obesity
  • Heredity
  • Overuse of joints or RSI (repetitive strain injury)

Treatments

Be reminded that once a person develops osteoarthritis or any type of arthritis, it will be for life. However, there are treatments to reduce the stiffness and pain.

  • Since obesity is one of the risk factors, doctors highly recommend them to lose weight first before taking any medications. This will make the treatment more effective and help avoid serious threats to health.
  • Daily exercise should be part of the daily routine as well. This will help reduce severe and long-term damage to the bones. Allot at least 30 minutes each day to exercise. Although exercise cannot relieve the pain entirely, this will help improve the quality of one’s life and reduce stress. Stretching exercises are highly recommended. Be warned though too much exercise may cause pain just the same so take it slow and do not overdo it.
  • Hot compress may be applied to relieve the swelling of joints. A hot bath would be very relaxing. Some people prefer to apply cold compress or take cold baths and experience the same effects. Cold temperature is also effective in numbing the pain. However, combining these two may have adverse effects. You can do trial-and-error to determine which one works best.
  • The only time you should take medication is when the pain becomes persistent and severe that exercise and weight loss are not effective. Consult a doctor and ask for prescriptions. Individuals with osteoarthritis may be recommended to take over-the-counter (OTC) Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin. These drugs have side effects if taken long-term including ulcer. Stronger drugs such as corticosteroid may also be prescribed. These will help reduce inflammation and pain.

Above all, be careful with the drugs you will be taking to treat joint osteoarthritis because they may cause complications that are sometimes life-threatening. Always ask the doctor and report any abnormalities while under medication. Corticosteroid for example are highly effective but it can cause severe damage to the bones.

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