Osteoarthritis is a disease that impacts millions of people globally. It is the most common type of arthritis and occurs when the cartilage that protects the end of the bones wears down with age. Early treatment by an orthopedic doctor can help manage the symptoms and allow you to enjoy a better quality of life. Therefore, we will examine this disorder in-depth in this article.
What is osteoarthritis?
As mentioned above, it is a form of arthritis that occurs when the protective cartilage around the end of bones deteriorates over time. While the disease can affect any joint, it generally affects the hands, knees, spine, and hips. Its symptoms can be managed; however, the inflicted damage is irreversible. Although, through specific lifestyle changes and early treatment, the progression of osteoarthritis can be slowed down, so you will have reduced pain and better joint function.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of this condition develop slowly and become worse over time. Therefore, early detection may be challenging. However, by staying vigilant and keeping track of any potential changes to your joints, you could approach an orthopedics clinic for help before the damage is significant.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis are as follows:
Pain: The joints that are affected may hurt while you are moving or afterward.
Tenderness: Your joint may feel soft and tender when you apply pressure to it or somewhere near it. The tenderness will be present even during a light touch.
Loss of flexibility: Your joint is typically very flexible; however, you will have difficulty moving it through its complete range of motion when this condition is present.
Stiffness: When you wake up or try to move after being inactive, you may notice stiffness in your joints.
Bone spurs: Extra bits of bones that feel like hard lumps can form around the affected joints.
Grating sensation: When you move the affected joint, you may feel a grating sense and maybe even hear popping or cracking sounds.
Swelling: You might see swelling around the joint caused by soft tissue inflammation.
What are the causes?
The cartilage that cushions the end of bones in your joint gradually wears down due to time. The cartilage is a slippery yet firm tissue that allows you to move your joint without any friction. Thus, bones will rub against each other when it wears down, causing severe pain and further damage.
Osteoarthritis is often given the moniker ‘wear and tear ‘ disease. Besides the cartilage damage, the condition also affects the complete joint. It causes the deterioration of connective tissues that hold the joint together and changes the shape of the bones. It also leads to inflammation in the joint lining.
The risk of developing the condition can increase based on your age, sex, weight, previous injuries, and bone deformities, to name a few. In addition, genetics and family history can also make you more vulnerable to have this condition. Therefore, make sure to get tested at a clinic as soon as you notice any symptoms.
What is the treatment?
Your specialist will provide you with medication to manage the pain that is caused by this condition. To reduce the progress of the disease, you will have to undergo physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around joints and increase flexibility. Regular exercise will also be necessary to help you achieve a healthy weight and reduce pressure on your bones.
If you have difficulty doing everyday tasks, you will be recommended occupational therapy. It will help you find new ways to do them without increasing pressure on your affected joints. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can also provide some short-term relief, especially if your osteoarthritis affects your hips and knees.
In severe cases, your doctor will recommend orthopedic surgery to realign your joints and lubricate your bones. If the damage is extensive, a joint replacement will be needed. It replaces the affected parts of your joint with metal or plastic substitutes.
If you suffer from any symptoms relating to osteoarthritis, make sure to visit our clinic in Sharjah and have your joints examined by a specialist. Early detection can slow down the disease progression and help you preserve movement.