Osteoarthritis – Three Things You Should Know

December 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Osteo-Arthritis Articles

Jack Russel asked:

It is a predator that knows no boundaries. Young, old, black, white, male and female – this is an equal-opportunity predator that can render its victims immobile.

1. Who is this culprit?

Osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis goes by many names – degenerative joint disease, wear-and-tear-arthritis among them – but the facts remain. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and affects an estimated 20 million Americans. Unlike other forms of arthritis, which are genetic, osteoarthritis can be linked to a number of causes – weight, age and injury among them. As with other forms of arthritis, there is no known cure for osteoarthritis, so recognizing the signs and symptoms of the disease early can be quite helpful in managing pain.

First, a little background. As its other names imply, osteoarthritis is inflammation caused by abnormal wear of the cartilage cushion in the joints. In a joint affected by osteoarthritis, this wear and tear leads to the degeneration of cartilage and the body is unable to replenish its own supply of this most precious resource. Inflammation causes mild to severe pain and, in some cases, degeneration is so severe that doctors will recommend replacement of the joint.

So what should you know about osteoarthritis? Here are three things to get you started.

2. Listen to your body.

Pain, particularly in the weight-bearing joints of the lower body, is a good indicator of osteoarthritis. Although osteoarthritis can affect any joint, particularly after traumatic injury or infection, most cases of osteoarthritis occur in the weight-bearing joints of the knees, hips, spine and ankles. Often, obesity or even moderately overweight can cause osteoarthritis pain to flare up. Losing a few pounds can help decrease pain, as can rest and judicious use of affected joints. For example, recurring pain in the knees is a good indicator that you might want to stop your rigorous running regimen, if only for a few weeks.

3. Early diagnosis is important for successful long-term pain management.

Although not all cases of osteoarthritis are visible on x-ray, your doctor – particularly if he or she is an internist or rheumatologist – can diagnose osteoarthritis with little problem. Medical history, physical examination and blood tests, along with MRI and x-ray offer reliable avenues for accurate diagnoses.

There is hope for osteoarthritis sufferers.

Osteoarthritis is degenerative – that means that the disease will get worse over time. The most commonly prescribed medications treat the pain by decreasing joint inflammation temporarily. Unfortunately, these medications – known as NSAIDs – also come with a host of dangerous and, in some cases deadly, side effects.

Non-prescription NSAIDs are also available over the counter – in the form of pills, potions and lotions – but the relief is short lived. Like their prescription counterparts, these chemically based medications only treat the symptoms. They mask the pain for a few hours and then the patient must take more. Over time, the body builds up a certain resistance and pain relief decreases.

There is hope, however, in the form of a natural treatment with no side effects. A treatment that treats more than the symptoms – it gets to the root of the problem by replenishing damaged cartilage in the arthritic joint.

Supplementation with all-natural glucosamine and chondroitin, the building blocks of healthy cartilage, has been shown to actually improve the condition of arthritic joints, without dangerous side effects. Pain relief and healing – a powerful combination.

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