Osteoarthritis: Causes, Signs, Symptoms & Treatment
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, which involves the gradual degradation of the joints. It is a disease that causes its carriers, chronic pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints. There is no proven cure for osteoarthritis; however, there are a number of osteoarthritis treatments that are known to be highly effective. These treatments can be classified into two types; lifestyle improvement and medical support.
Osteoarthritis Diet and Exercise:
A carefully monitored diet and exercise regime would contribute towards weight loss, which is one of the most common causes of osteoarthritis. An important part of successfully dealing with osteoarthritis is maintaining a healthy body weight while constantly being active and strengthening your muscles and joints through low-impact aerobic workouts like pilates, yoga and swimming.
Rest is the most straightforward way to ease osteoarthritis symptoms. While excessive movement flares up osteoarthritis, rest relieves the tension caused by it. It is important to maintain a balance between rest and exercise, thus ensuring that the joints are neither overworked to the point of inflammation nor underworked to the point of stiffness. Use of orthosis like splints, braces, orthotic shoes or supportive devices like canes and walkers can significantly decrease the stress that is placed on the joints.
Hot or Cold Therapies:
Application of heat or cold to specific types of injuries is very common. Osteoarthritis treatments use heat (thermotherapy) and use cold (cryotherapy) to soothe pain and relieve stiffness. Mediums like hot packs, cold packs, hot water bottles and coolant sprays are used as well.
Physical / Occupational Therapy:
Physical and occupational therapists help people suffering from osteoarthritis to manage the symptoms that affect their everyday life. They help patients with individualized fitness regimes and give them advice on devices that can help make their daily routines easier to follow and more comfortable to maintain.
While pain relief medications like paracetamols do alleviate some of the pain, Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) contribute towards both pain and swelling. NSAIDs are available in two kinds; more conventional drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin, and a more recently discovered type of drugs called COX II Inhibitors. Medication is also available in the form of topical pain relievers like creams and sprays that one can apply directly on the areas of pain and/or inflammation.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS):
This sort of therapy, supervised by a physiotherapist, utilizes electricity to soothe the pain caused by osteoarthritis. Short pulses of electricity are passed into the nerve endings around the spinal cord in order to desensitize them and in turn, dull the pain that is controlled by those nerves.
For more serious cases of osteoarthritis that cannot be helped through external means, medication is introduced through injection directly into the joints that are affected. There are different medications that are injected via intra-articular injections like corticosteroid (to reduce pain and swelling) and hyaluronic acid (to increase lubrication and provide cushioning to joint).
Research shows that lifestyle improvement and appropriate medical support can significantly ease the symptoms of this disease. However, for severe cases of osteoarthritis, one might require surgical procedures like osteotomy (realignment of bones) and arthroplasty (joint replacement). So even though osteoarthritis cannot be cured, treatments for osteoarthritis have advanced and progressed enough to provide those suffering from the disease a chance to live and maintain a normal and steady life.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.