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What Is Osteoarthritis? How To Treat It?

What Is Osteoarthritis?How To Treat It?

What Is Osteoarthritis? How To Treat It?

More than 32 million people in the U.S. live with osteoarthritis these days. While being the most widely-spread form of arthritis, osteoarthritis is a common inflammatory health complication that constantly affects adults all over the world.

So, what differentiates osteoarthritis from other arthritis forms? What are the main types and symptoms of the health complication? And, finally, how to treat osteoarthritis? Let us find answers to these questions by means of going through this article.

Osteoarthritis As a Form of Arthritis

Arthritis is a health complication that belongs to musculoskeletal and skin diseases and is characterized by joint pain and inflammation. It belongs to one of the most common health conditions in the world. Namely, every fourth adult in the U.S. is diagnosed with a certain form of the disease.

Mind-blowing arthritis-related fact #1: There exist more than one hundred different forms of arthritis.

Despite the fact that inflammation and pain in joints are the most typical characteristics of all arthritis types, each of them has its own causes, symptoms, and treatment methods. Thus, how about taking a closer look at the five most widely spread forms of the disease.

#1: Osteoarthritis

As already mentioned above, osteoarthritis is the most common form of health condition. It is a chronic disease that is characterized by the inflammation of a joint that has occurred as a result of its wear-and-tear process. Thus, the main age group that suffers from osteoarthritis consists of primarily elder people. When being more precise, it is important to mention that the disease tends to appear in older women. They tend to develop mild, middle, or severe pain in joints rather slowly and gradually over time. Thus, older age and female gender are the key osteoarthritis risk factors.

Mind-blowing arthritis-related fact #2: Osteoarthritis pain tends to migrate from one joint to another. For instance, it might affect only one hip joint first and then spread to the other one.

Since osteoarthritis is the most typical form of arthritis, it is essential to know exactly what are its types, symptoms, and treatment options. Thus, let us discuss them in detail after going through the short description of other forms of the disease.

#2: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Another widely-spread form of arthritis (which, however, occurs ten times less frequently than osteoarthritis) is the rheumatoid one. It is a chronic disease that is characterized by inflammation in joints that is caused by an autoimmune disease.

A side note: An autoimmune disease is a health complication that occurs when the immune system of human beings mistakenly attacks their own cells instead of fighting with foreign bodies.

Rheumatoid arthritis might affect people of any age, starting from children and ending with elder individuals. Moreover, it tends to develop in a rapid manner. The main symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is the inflammation of symmetrical joints (such as both knees, elbows, or wrists). As well, it is oftentimes followed by the overall feeling of illness in the body. The health complication might be relieved with the help of special orthopedic medications and supported with a healthy lifestyle, physical therapy, and other methods.

#3: Gouty Arthritis

Gout is also a pretty common form of arthritis. It is a health complication that is characterized by periods of an extreme level of joint pain followed by the so-called “remission” periods. A very typical feature that differentiates gout from other arthritis types is that it oftentimes affects one joint of the big toe. The pain level might get worse with time.

The symptoms of gout include redness, heat, swelling, and pain around the area of the affected joint. They are oftentimes caused by hyperuricemia, a health condition that is characterized by excessive uric acid in the body. The treatment protocol of gouty arthritis includes three main stages, namely: the intake of drugs to relieve pain, the changes in lifestyle to prevent the return of the pain, and the management of high uric acid levels with the help of medical manipulations.

#4: Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis appears much more rarely if compared to the forms of the health complication that are mentioned above. However, it is a rather common disease of joint inflammation in people who live with psoriasis. The health complication might appear at any age and gradually develop over time. In the most severe cases, psoriatic arthritis might turn into an irreversible disease and, as a result, require surgery.

The basic characteristic of psoriatic arthritis is a stiff, swollen, and painful joint. Unless treated in a proper way, it might develop into a damaged or deformed one. The disease might be treated with the help of anti-inflammatory drugs, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic medications, and biological therapies.

#5: Lupus

Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, lupus is a health complication that is caused by an autoimmune disease. It is characterized by inflammation in the different body parts, including joints. It might be sometimes difficult to diagnose lupus in time, as the inflammation within the body might be typical for the whole bunch of diseases. Still, a distinctive characteristic of the disease is a facial rash in a form of butterfly wings.

Apart from other non-related to arthritis symptoms of lupus such as fever, dry eyes, or chest pain, the health complication is also characterized by stiff and swelling joints. In order to take care of the above-mentioned symptoms, a patient will have to consult with a health care practitioner and receive a personalized treatment protocol.

So, lupus, psoriatic, gouty, rheumatoid, and osteoarthritis belong to the common forms of the disease. While osteoarthritis, in its turn, is definitely the most widely-spread one.

Finger, Hip, and Knee Osteoarthritis As the Main Types of the Disease

Finger, Hip, and Knee Osteoarthritis As the Main Types of the Disease

Getting back to osteoarthritis, it is worth being mentioned that the health condition might be divided into several variations. Depending on a primary joint it appears in, there exist the following types of osteoarthritis:

  • Knee osteoarthritis;
  • Hip osteoarthritis;
  • Finger osteoarthritis.

While osteoarthritis of a knee joint, in its turn, is the most common type of the disease.

Mind-blowing arthritis-related fact #3: Osteoarthritis tends to primarily affect the so-called weight-bearing joints. Thus, it usually appears in a finger, hip, or knee joint.

Apart from the above-mentioned types of osteoarthritis, it might also affect the following joints:

  • Hands;
  • Lower back;
  • Neck.

Therefore, practically any joint that has been excessively used during a person’s life might get affected by osteoarthritis.

Joint Pain, Stiffness, and Swelling As Primary Osteoarthritis Symptoms

Now, let us move to the most typical symptoms of osteoarthritis. Since it is a health complication that occurs as a result of a joint’s wear-and-tear process, it is oftentimes characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Chronic pain in affected joints;
  • Joint stiffness;
  • Swelling;
  • The loss of joint flexibility;
  • The formation of bone spurs (or the so-called osteophytes).

There exist different degrees of these health complications. While one person who lives with osteoarthritis might only experience mild pain in a hip joint, another one will have all the acute symptoms that are mentioned above.

Moreover, osteoarthritis symptoms might either develop over time (unless the disease is properly treated) or get into remission (if a patient reduces their excess weight, changes their lifestyle, or follows the recommendations of their health care practitioner).

Mind-blowing arthritis-related fact #4: Despite the fact that osteoarthritis is mainly caused by the “wear and tear” of a joint, it might also appear as a result of genetics. Namely, there are people who inherit an increased risk to develop osteoarthritis from their older generation.

Key Peculiarities of Osteoarthritis Treatment

So, how is osteoarthritis treated? Well, they strongly depend on such individual characteristics of each patient as:

  • Medical history;
  • Health condition;
  • Age;
  • Weight;
  • Lifestyle;
  • And so on.

Therefore, it is vital to consult with a health care practitioner when selecting the most appropriate way to treat osteoarthritis.

Among the basic methods that might relieve pain and reduce the appearance of osteoarthritis symptoms are:

  • Weight loss. If a person has extra kilos, one of the osteoarthritis treatment options lies in losing weight. Keeping a normal weight is vital for people suffering from the disease;
  • Special physical therapy. Another method of pain relief for people with osteoarthritis is to do special exercises under the supervision of a physical therapist. Proper exercising (such as stretching) might substantially reduce stress on the joint;
  • The application of compresses to the affected joint. Both hot and cold compresses might serve as pain relievers for an osteoarthritic person;
  • The intake of orthopedic medications. If none of the above-mentioned methods helps to reduce pain during osteoarthritis, the intake of special preparations might come in handy. Namely, a patient might either take oral medications or receive orthopedic injections (oftentimes hyaluronic acid injections, when being more precise) into the affected joint;
  • The surgical treatment. The most radical method of treating osteoarthritis is a surgical joint replacement. In case the affected joint has already started to deform or the joint space has started to narrow, probably the most efficient way to take care of it will be to take it off and install an artificial joint instead.

Therefore, osteoarthritis has a wide range of treatment methods, starting from the option to lose weight and ending with the entire joint replacement.

A Bottom Line

All in all, osteoarthritis is a widely spread musculoskeletal and skin disease. While being mainly caused by the depletion of a joint, it is characterized by hand, back, neck, finger, hip, or knee pain in the affected area. Luckily, there exist plenty of options of how to treat joint pain, such as maintaining a normal weight, applying compresses to the treatment area, or undergoing hyaluronic acid injections. So, take proper care of osteoarthritis and stay healthy at all times!

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