Osteoarthritis is a joint disorder and most common form of arthritis in the United Kingdom. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, can affect any joint in the body but it most often involves small joints of the hands and base of the big toe as well as large weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees. Due to osteoarthritis over 140,000 hip and knee replacement surgical procedures are performed in the UK.
Osteoarthritis is featured by mild inflammation of the entire joints and surrounding tissue. This chronic condition causes the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. Cartilage is the firm, rubbery tissue that acts as a cushion between the bones of the joints and allows easy movement of joints. Osteoarthritis can also cause bony growths to form around the joints.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is associated with aging. It usually affects people aged over 50 years. However, younger people too may develop osteoarthritis usually due to an injury or some other joint problem. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
The two major symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain and stiffness in the joints. The pain typically occurs after repetitive use of the affected joint or after long periods of inactivity. Swelling, warmth and creaking of the joint can be present too. Over time, osteoarthritis causes difficulty moving the joints. However, symptoms of osteoarthritis may vary from person to person and some people might not have symptoms despite obvious degeneration of the joints shown on X-ray imaging.
Treatment for Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis can not be cured. Still, treatment is available and is designed to prevent further cartilage degeneration and to improve joint function. There are different treatment options to relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis. Exercise or orthopedic footwear can be used to manage mild symptoms of the disorder. On the other hand, advanced cases of osteoarthritis require other treatments. Treatments for osteoarthritis include medications such as pain relievers, lifestyle changes, physiotherapy and surgery.
Prevention of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis can not be prevented but it is possible to reduce the risk of developing it. Regular exercise can help to maintain joint mobility and strength of muscles surrounding joints. However, it is important to avoid exercise that puts excessive strain on the joints. Swimming, walking, aerobic and cycling are recommended while running weight training should be avoided.
In order to prevent development of osteoarthritis, it is also important to have good posture as it decreases load on the joints. Avoid being in the same position for too long and stretch often if you work at desk.
Maintain healthy weight and lose weight if it you are overweight or obese because extra weight puts a lot of strain on the joints particularly hips, knees and feet.