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.

Osteoarthritis of The Back

December 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Osteo-Arthritis Articles

Jude Cresswell asked:

Back pain is a very common condition. 4 out of 5 people experience back pain at some stage of their lives. Arthritis of the spine is one of the causes of back pain. It is important to know the symptoms of back arthritis because the earlier it is diagnosed, the better it can be treated to prevent disability in future.

The signs & symptoms of spinal arthritis include:
Back pain that comes and goes
Morning stiffness of the spine that decreases with activity
Pain or stiffness in the neck
Weakness or numbness of limbs
Difficulty in walking or bending

The arthritis affecting the spine is usually of the degenerative type known as osteoarthritis. In this type of arthritis the cartilage covering the joints wears away until the joint surfaces are exposed, leaving them susceptible to erosion if untreated. Pain occurs due to friction produced when the exposed joint surfaces rub together on movement.

If you have activity related back pain relieved by rest it is likely that you have arthritis. More concerning symptoms are those of night pain, numbness or burning pain.

The tests done to diagnose and assess severity are:
X-rays
MRI
CAT scan
Bone scan

WHAT TO DO
If you are diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the back there are a number of treatment options both with and without involving medication.

MEDICATION
NSAIDs like ibuprofen can be taken for temporarily pain relief. Aspirin and acetaminophen can also give relief from pain. As these medications provide only temporary relief from pain and are not without side effects they should only be used when the pain becomes severe and impairs your mobility. Always consult your doctor before starting any medication.

LIFESTYLE MODIFICATONS
The following life style modifications can help people with back arthritis tremendously:

General exercises and stretches to help increase the flexibility and stability of your back.

Wearing proper shoes to minimize strain on the back. High heeled shoes should be avoided. Shoes that provide proper arch support are recommended for people with spinal osteoarthritis.

If you are over weight you are putting additional stress on the spine and back.
Find a good mattress for yourself that will support the muscles and joints of your back while you rest and sleep.

When in a sitting position whether in a car or at your desk choose a seat that will provide proper lumbar pressure to your back. You can achieve this my either changing your seat or inserting a lumbar cushion.

Ice & hot packs can be used to reduced pain and numbness associated with degenerative arthritis and are contraindicated in inflammatory arthritis.

Electric stimulation devices, either professional or for home use relieve pain by the passage of microcurrents through the muscles.

Mechanical massage devices or manual massage disperses lactic acid, increases circulation, can be very effective for ‘knotted up’ muscles.

Vitamin, mineral & diet supplementation with Vitamin D, vitamin C, ascorbic acid, glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin sulphate may help reduce pain.

People with arthritis continue to live active and productive lives. Educating yourself about your condition and managing your symptoms are the keys to not letting arthritis slow you down.

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