Osteoarthritis, more commonly known as arthritis, is a common condition where the natural cushioning between the joints wears away. Synovial fluid stops the bones of the joints from rubbing against each other. When this natural substance wears away, the rubbing of the bones of the joints starts to wear the cartilage out and can result in swelling, stiffness, pain, decreased range of movement, and sometimes even the formation of bone spurs.
What causes osteoarthritis?
Numerous factors are responsible for the development of arthritis in the knees.
- Age: As you age, the risk of osteoarthritis increases.
- Weight: Being overweight puts additional pressure on the knees and hips, which can result in arthritis.
- Gender: Statistics show that women are more at risk for osteoarthritis than men, although research is inconclusive as to why.
- Physical activity: Athletes or jobs that cause repetitive stress on a joint can increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
- Injury or bone deformity: Those who are born with defective cartilage or malformed joints and those who have suffered an injury to a joint are more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
- Genetics: Arthritis can also be hereditary.
The main goals of treating arthritis are to decrease pain and increase joint mobility. Although there is no cure for arthritis, its symptoms can be effectively managed through physical and occupational therapy, lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery.
- Weight loss: Extra pounds put extra pressure on the knees. Losing weight can have a huge impact on reducing pain.
- Exercise: Exercise helps to maintain flexibility in the joints. Low impact exercises, such as swimming or water aerobics, help to stretch and strengthen the joints.
- Heat therapy and cold therapy: Heat therapy, such as a warm shower or an electric blanket, and cold therapy, such as an ice pack, can help to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture can reduce pain and stiffness, but is generally not found to be as effective for more advanced stages of osteoarthritis.
- Orthopedic injectables: Orthopedic injectables are now becoming a frontrunner in the treatment of osteoarthritis.
Arthritis pain can also be treated with painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications. Orthopedic injectables, such as Orthovisc and Hyalgan, have been found to be extremely effective for most patients and may even delay the need for surgery. Along with other changes, such as mild exercise and weight loss, this can also replace other traditional therapies.
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