Osteoarthritis can be a debilitating condition affecting your day to day life
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis affect your joints and is a condition that surfaces within your joints when they damaged. It stops the joint moving smoothly within the sockets and is sometimes referred to as arthrosis, degenerative joint disease or general wear and tear.
You may be suffering from osteoarthritis if you have the following symptoms in your joints:
- Pain – Worse when you move your joint or at the end of the day the pain.
- Stiffness – Especially after rest, the stiffness may subside after movement.
- A grating or grinding sensation (crepitus) – A creaking or crunch as you move.
- Swelling – This may be hard or soft depending on the cause, and may make the muscles around your joint look thin or wasted.
A key indicator of osteoarthritis is not being able to use your joint normally, it not moving as freely or as far as normal. It may sometime give way due to the muscles weakening.
Symptoms may vary, with the joint feeling better on some days compared to others depending on how active the you are. Some see a difference in pain with the weather, especially on damp days and falling atmospheric pressure.
If the pain is not going away you may have a severe case of osteoarthritis causing you sleeping difficulties and affecting your daily activities, potentially making it hard to climb stairs or go for walks.
What causes osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease caused by the cartilage covering the bones gradually becomes rough and thin. There are numerous factors that will increase your risk and it’s often a mixture of these that led to it.
- Joint injury
- Joint abnormalities
- Genetic conditions
Usually starting from the late 40’s, it is possible a weakening of the muscles or the body’s inability to heal itself as well as well as when you are younger are contributing factors. It is common for women to be more affected by osteoarthritis of the hand and knee joints, usually being more severe is most cases.
Lifestyle can be a factor in developing osteoarthritis, with obesity commonly affecting the knee. Being overweight will also make symptoms worse and prevent any recovery. Injury similarly will increase the chances of developing osteoarthritis in later life. Normal activity and exercise won’t usually cause osteoarthritis, but injury or overly demanding physical jobs will increase your risk.
Finally, genetic factors or joint abnormalities can increase the chances, Perthes’ disease of the hips is an example of this, resulting in more severe osteoarthritis later in life. Similarly, nodal osteoarthritis that affects the hands of middle-aged women runs strong within the families. Genetic factors play a smaller, but important part in osteoarthritis, particularly of the hip and knee.
What treatment is available for Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis has no cure and is a long-term condition. It will never go away but with the right treatment symptoms can gradually improve over time. For mild cases symptoms can be managed with simple treatments such as regular exercise and weight loss.
For more severe cases structured exercise plans carried out by or under the supervision of a physiotherapist may be needed. Designed to strengthen the muscles around the joints to reduce inflammation will help to alleviate pain and gradually reduce symptoms.
Get in touch to find out more about how Flex can help design a tailored programme designed by qualified physiotherapists.
Can I help myself?
There is no way to prevent osteoarthritis completely, but you can minimise risk by avoiding injury and staying healthy.
Exercise is a great way to stay healthy and we recommend doing 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 times a week. This will help to build up muscle strength and stay healthy. However, overloading your joints through intense exercises such as weight training or running can increase the risk and should be done moderately.
If you regularly work at a desk, ensuring you maintain good posture can help. Make sure your chair is at the correct height and take regular breaks to avoid staying in the same position for too long.
Finally, losing weight can help to lower your risk of developing the condition. Maintaining a healthy weight will reduce the strain on your joints. To find out how to maintain a healthy diet speak to Flex Health and our qualified nutritionist will point you in the right direction.
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