Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the world. Every bone end or place where one bone meets the other is lined up with cartilage. Cartilage allows bones to move smoothly against one another. It even absorbs forces placed on your joints, acting as a cushion. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage wears out and it can affect every joint in your body. But what are the most common causes of osteoarthritis and how do you treat it? This post will provide an answer to those questions and even more.
The first and most pronounced symptom that you will feel is joint pain. The pain can occur at one or multiple joints and vary in intensity. The most commonly affected joints are the knees, hips, and joints in the hand. Even the acromioclavicular joint, known as the AC joint, can be affected and cause pain in front of the shoulder. The pain is usually followed by stiffness in the affected area. Other than pain and stiffness you may experience tenderness, swelling, or different cracking sounds while moving your joints. Symptoms are often more intense in the morning or after a long sedentary period. During the day symptoms can calm down, mostly due to movement and a warmed-up body.
The pain that you feel can vary in intensity and type. Every single person is affected differently by osteoarthritis. Some individuals may not be affected at all by osteoarthritis while some can barely perform their everyday activities. Therefore depending on the symptoms, the treatment solutions differ. But first what are the causes of osteoarthritis?
Causes Of Osteoarthritis
During your lifespan, all of your body’s tissues are constantly working and getting damaged. Those damages usually remain unnoticed as they get repaired before they take a toll on your wellbeing. Therefore a healthy body that can recover quickly does not cause any symptoms.
When you develop osteoarthritis your joints lack the ability to recover. The cartilage which works as a shock absorber between your bones starts to break down. This leads to pain, swelling, tenderness, and all previously mentioned symptoms around your joints.
Unfortunately, the exact cause for developing osteoarthritis is unknown. The good thing is that several factors are associated with an increased risk of developing this condition. This is extremely positive as it can be guided towards treatment. The following are the most common causes associated with developing osteoarthritis.
Previous Joint Injury
If you have developed any kind of joint injury in your life the chances of developing osteoarthritis are increased. The type of injury and intervention performed play a big role as well. Individuals that have undergone surgery are at higher risk compared to those who strained their joints.
The older you are the higher are chances of developing the condition. Most commonly osteoarthritis affects individuals from age 45 and upwards.
Genetics & Gender
Condition predominantly affects women and chances are even higher if some of your family members have been affected by osteoarthritis.
Some individuals may take offense to this but you are at higher risk if you are obese. The joints are put under extra stress because of your weight and the constant strain leads to them being unable to recover.
Now all of the causes mentioned above are the most probable ones for you developing osteoarthritis. But, even if you have these predispositions and symptoms mentioned above you still may not be suffering from osteoarthritis. That is why it is of huge importance to see your doctor and physical therapist.
Many of you may wonder why not only see a doctor? Well, in a majority of cases even your doctor will proscribe you to meet with a physical therapist. This is mostly due to the most common treatment.
How To Treat It
It is important to understand that osteoarthritis is a condition that will follow you for to rest of your life. This does not mean that it will get worse but it can if not treated properly. If the pain and discomfort get unbearable and hinder you from performing everyday activities usually the orthopedic doctor will recommend surgical intervention. Surgical interventions are safe and consist of joint replacement. Do not be discouraged, in most cases, the symptoms do get better with some quite simple treatment strategies. These treatment options are the ones almost every single one of you suffering from osteoarthritis will need to partake in.
First and foremost you will need to start strength training. As you get assessed by your physical therapist they will provide a strength training protocol just for your needs. In the beginning, it can be quite challenging to exercise because of the pain and discomfort. Persist. The stronger you get, the less pain will you experience. This happens because your muscles are now able to take off some of the load from your joints. Poor muscle mass leads to your joints having to take on all the weight and pressure that everyday activities put on your body. Hence, more and more joint damage which for some can cause an increase in the intensity of symptoms. Even if you do take a surgical route, you will still need to exercise regularly as it is the most important part of your rehabilitation process.
Losing weight is self-explanatory. The less you weigh the less stress you put on your joint. Be careful, as this treatment option is for those that have a little extra weight to lose. If you already have a healthy weight then losing more weight may not be as beneficial. This is because our body needs the energy to build muscle and it is hard to build muscle and lose weight at the same time. But if you do have an extra pound or kilogram to lose, go ahead.
Find proper footwear. On my page, I talk often about what kind of shoe people should wear. A regular person should strive for heaving strong feet and walk barefoot as much as possible. In a similar matter, the choice of shoes should mimic barefoot walking and be anatomically appropriate for humans. But in we still need to be able to judge the abilities of the individual and appoint treatment accordingly. That is why if you suffer from osteoarthritis you should consider shoes with a good amount of cushioning. All because of the previously mentioned improper joint function. The better and more stable absorption of force your shoes have, the milder the symptoms.
Consider using certain devices that make everyday activities easier. There are plenty of devices that make walking easier and they vary in the amount of help they provide. This enables you to pick the exact amount of pain relief you need while keeping your independence. Those devices are in form of walking sticks, ect
Consult With Doctor & Physical Therapist
As mentioned earlier, visit your doctor and physical therapist so that you can get an accurate diagnosis or individually designed treatment plan. Do not forget that strengthening your body is the number one priority. Meaning, that all of the other treatment options should be combined with strength training.
There is no known way to prevent developing osteoarthritis. The best thing that you can do is lead a physically active life. Move your body every day. There is a specific amount of time you should be moving and exercising per week. The recommended levels of physical activity may not prevent osteoarthritis entirely but can make your symptoms less severe, plus they come with many more extra health benefits.
As an extra segment, I wanted to include supplements that can be beneficial for individuals with osteoarthritis. The supplements mentioned below have anti-inflammatory components that in most cases can ease the pain in affected joints. These supplements have external health benefits as well, which can lead to a better overall quality of your life.
Curcumin is the most bio-available component found in turmeric. Many of you are aware of what turmeric is. It is a spice used in Indian cuisine that gives curry its yellow color. Turmeric has even been used for thousands of years as a medical herb. The medical properties that curcumin has are anti-inflammatory and it even acts as an antioxidant. Therefore it has been studied and shown that it can help certain conditions such as arthritis, and osteoarthritis. You can find it as a spice in your local market or get it in tablet form.
Vitamin E is a really important vitamin as it boosts the immune system, works as an antioxidant and it can even ease inflammation. You can get enough of it through your diet. It has been found in olive oil, meat, dairy products, almonds, and much more. But if you are deficient in vitamin E you can get it in tablet form and use it as a supplement. It can be worth trying out supplementing vitamin E as it can provide pain relief and make strength training more bearable.
Almost everybody has heard of or used ibuprofen in their life for its anti-inflammatory properties. But there for you who want to try a more natural supplement, give ginger a try. It can help with swelling and muscle pain after exercising for you suffering from arthritis. Now, using fresh ginger is not enough as you would need to eat a lot of it to get the right dose. That is why using the supplement in powder or capsule form is more beneficial. To get the most out of the supplement, use the ones with the purest extract.
Omega 3 is a healthy fat found in the biggest amounts in fish. This healthy fat is one of the essential components of a healthy diet as it promotes cardiovascular and overall health. One of the main attributes of Omega 3 is that it fights inflammation in the body. That is why it is recommended to eat certain foods or use them as a supplement to ensure you get enough of them. Especially if you suffer from arthritis. In recent years a new source of Omega 3 fatty acids has been found, and it is called krill oil. Krill is a type of crustacean that different sea animals feed on. Why has Krill Oil gained popularity? Well in Krill Omega 3 fats are found in certain molecules which are easily absorbed by the human body. Therefore better anti-inflammatory benefits.
One of the most important, if not the most important vitamin that you should get enough of is vitamin D. Majority of the human population are deficient in vitamin D. The chances of you being deficient are even higher if your life is cold or in nordic countries. This leads to an increased risk of developing depression and arthritis. When you get enough vitamin D in your system, the inflammation, calcium levels, and phosphorus balance in your body are regulated better.