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What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the progressive degenerative joint disease primarily affecting soft connective tissue known as the cartilage. It is mostly known to be the disease of middle-aged or elderly people. Although, it can damage or affect any part of the body joints of the hands, knees, hips, and spine are commonly affected. Being progressive in nature, it often gets worse without any conventional way of curing it. Although staying physically active, managing weight and technologically advanced treatment may help to manage the disease.

How prevalent is Osteoarthritis? 

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 26 million Americans are affected.  Almost 40% of those suffering from the disease are more than 65 years of age. As per the incidence measured, involving the age and the sex of the individual hand OA, hips OA and knee OA are the most common types. OA is also found to be more prevalent in women than in men.
Studies have confirmed that men have a 48% higher risk as compared to women. Even in case of hip arthritis, men have observed to have a 36% reduced risk than in females.  CDC has confirmed an annual death rate of 0.2 to 0.3 deaths per 1, 000,000 population. Thus, approximately 500 deaths are attributed to OA per year, and the number is increasing every year.
Factors responsible for Osteoarthritis
Although scientists have determined osteoarthritis to be an autoimmune disorder, there are some other common risk factors that can aggravate the condition. Such as:
  • Being Overweight
  • Age
  • Joint injury
  • Joint defects
  • Genetic abnormality
  • Joints being overstressed due to sports, knee bending, repetitive motions
  • Pregnancy and associated calcium loss in case of women, estrogen deficiency, etc.
  • Presence of reactive proteins in urine
  • High bone density

Symptoms Associated with Osteoarthritis
Being a joint disorder, osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, although the most prevalent among them are heavy weight-bearing joints such as ankles, knees, spine, etc. Symptoms of the disease often develop very slowly but worsen with time. They may include:
  • Severe joint pain during or after the movements.
  • Tenderness when light pressure is applied.
  • Joint stiffness is a noticeable indication of joint disorders, especially in the morning or after a period or activity.
  • Severe loss of flexibility is observed to the extent that the joints cannot be moved smoothly within their full range of motion.
  • Grating sensation is experienced after the overuse of joints.
  • Bone spurs observed around the affected parts of the joints.
    Prognosis associated with the Osteoarthritis
  • Improve joint function.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Weight management.
  • Adapting a healthy lifestyle such as physical exercise, yoga, diet, etc.
  • Rest as much as possible with joint care.

Apart from these rehabilitative approaches, doctors may also suggest certain medications such as:
  • Non-drug pain relief to control pain.
  • Steroidal drugs.
    Complementary alternative therapies:
  • Surgery

Osteoarthritis is a joint disease mainly affecting cartilages. Cartilage is the soft tissue with a gliding surface, covering the ends of the joints.  Their main role is to allow smooth gliding of the bones over each other without creating much fiction. The tissue acts as a shock absorber when the joints are in motion.

However, due to overuse of joints, the top surface of the cartilage breaks down and wears away progressively. This allows greater exposure of two bones towards each other, causing an increase in the friction between them. This increased fiction causes pain, swelling, and loss of the motion of the joints. In a more severe, chronic form of the disease, the pieces of bones even break off and float inside the joint spaces that can eventually increase the pain.

Tag: auto-immune

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