Affecting nearly 20 million people in the United States along, osteoarthritis is one of the leading diseases in the world that causes physical disability. This disease characterized by inflammation of joints affects individuals as early as 40 years old, causing adults pain in joints of the spine, neck, hands, fingers, hips, knees and even big toes.
The primary function of the cartilage is to protect the ends of the bones and keep them from crashing each other in the joints. In the case of osteoarthritis, the use of the bones and frequent unhealthy moving causes the cartilage to deteriorate, changing its shape from thick to thing and texture from smooth to rough. Sometimes, the reason for this joint disorder can be caused directly from injury.
As the condition of the cartilage worsens, it can no longer give cushion at the ends of the bones, making ends of the bones to rub each other. Constant rubbing of joints can cause swelling which can be very uncomfortable and painful in the long run. Because there is no enough thickness of cartilage that cushions and blocks the bones at the joints, bone’s ends may start to grow lumps or spurs on its ends.
The joints shape will also deteriorate causing pain when it is moved and used. A gradual loss of flexibility of the joint is also lost because of the swelling.
The progressive degeneration of cartilage and proliferation of bone is one of the leading illnesses that cause physical disability all over the world. This illness can affect anyone, it doesn’t choose between sexes, races, geographical location, and climate. There are also many factors that lead to the development of this disease.
The obvious symptom of this illness is stiffness with joint pain and limited motion. The inflammation may occur in any part of the body, but mostly in those joints where constant stress and tension is applied.
The stiffness of the joints usually happens in the morning; the inflexibility usually lasts for 30 minutes or less, but recurs when there is a prolonged inactivity of the joint. The joints of a person with osteoarthritis are tender which means there’s already much damage in that area. Other damages in the bones are osteophytes or bone spurs, effusions or fluid in the bones and crepitus or the sound of the rubbing ends of the bones.
Aside from knowing the patient’s history and results of physical exams, diagnosis of osteoarthritis also require x-ray imaging to determine the damage in the spot of the body. Spurring of the bones and narrowing of the joint spaces can be seen and evaluated easily with x-ray findings.
For serious conditions MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging are advised by doctors. Those joints with popping, locking and instability due to musculoskeletal damage can be detected easily.
There are many ways to treat this condition nowadays. Therapies and medications are used to minimize the pain caused by the swelling. Treatments are also important to improve the condition and prevent the illness from worsening.
Treatment procedures include patient education about the illness (telling them their condition, what to do and what not to do), right diet and exercise and physical therapy. Thus, it is very important to seek for professional help to keep the illness from worsening.