Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is also called Degenerative Joint Disease. This condition destroys the cartilage between your bones/joints and causes insufferable amounts of pain. The cartilage between your bones allows them to glide smoothly together when in mechanical motion. When the cartilage starts to wear down, as with those who have Osteoarthritis, the bones start to rub together. This causes friction and actually does a lot of damage to the bones themselves, as well as the muscles, nerves, tendons and other tissues in the affected area. Cartilage also helps to absorb shock when the joints are in motion. When the cartilage is worn down, it places excess traumatic impact on the bones and joints. This causes even more irreparable damage to the joints. Little pieces of bone can even start to chip away and build up in the affected area. These small fragments float around in the area and cause excruciating pain; it can feel as though ossified shrapnel is lodged inside the area. After prolonged use of the joints with Osteoarthritis, the bones start to become physically warped and misaligned. In a lot of cases, you can see the physical damage on the outside of the skin. The skin becomes twisted and the bones become knotty and deformed. There is also the possibility that small deposits of bone begin to grow on the outer edges of the bone. These are called bone spurs (or osteophytes) and they add more pain to this already horrible and debilitating disease. An estimated 27 million Americans who are 25 or older have Osteoarthritis. It becomes more common with age, however, young people are also susceptible. This typically happens from a joint injury, a malformation of the joint, or a genetic defect in the cartilage.
Before the age of 45, Osteoarthritis is more common in men. After the age of 45, Osteoarthritis becomes more common in women. Other factors that contribute to developing Osteoarthritis are excess weight/obesity and/or occupations in which the joints are overused or stressed. Other contributing factors may include diet and nutrition, improper exercise or mechanics, and past traumatic injury. Those who have Osteoarthritis typically experience pain and stiffness in the joints. The most commonly affected joints are at the ends of the fingers, the thumbs, the neck, lower back, hips, and knees.
There is not a single test that can diagnose Osteoarthritis but your doctor might use a series of different tests to rule out any other possible disorders besides Osteoarthritis. They may start by asking you a series of questions about your clinical history such as how or when you started to feel pain in your joints. They might also ask about your family’s clinical history and if there are any other medical problems that have affected your family. They will also want to know about any prescription or nonprescription drugs that you might be taking. Being honest about all of these questions will only help provide a better diagnosis for your condition and establish treatment options that are right for you. The doctor may also conduct a physical examination and determine which joints hurt the worst or which ones you have difficulty moving. They might observe how you walk or move specific joints of the body. The doctor may also examine your joints by using an X-ray machine or MRI. If the doctor still doesn’t want to rule out Osteoarthritis, but cannot seem to find an accurate diagnosis, they may perform a blood test to detect Osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis can develop gradually as we age and the pain can range from annoying to debilitating. The pain and symptoms of Osteoarthritis isn’t just located in the joints, it affects many other aspects of our lives. Those with Osteoarthritis may experience severe bouts of depression, anxiety, and a loss of autonomy (a feeling of helplessness). Other external factors include occupational limitations, the inability to socialize with friends and family, and even the inability to enjoy simple everyday pleasures, hobbies, or activities in life. Despite how awful Osteoarthritis is, it is treatable. There are various successful ways to treat Osteoarthritis without resorting to the use of surgery, cortisone shots, or painkillers. Many options for home remedies are inexpensive, simple, and effective at treating Osteoarthritis. Some treatment options work better for different people, but it never hurts to try whatever you can.
When it comes to Osteoarthritis, there are 5 specific areas in the body that are susceptible to the pain and suffering of Osteoarthritis. We have provided a detailed list of these areas as well as specific treatments for those areas.