Arthritis causes suffering for millions of Americans every day. There are over 140 different types of arthritis, but the one that most people today suffer from is Osteoarthritis. As of 2005, over 27 million Americans suffer from the painful symptoms of osteoarthritis.1 Osteoarthritis is classified as non-inflammatory arthritis, but as the disease continues to affect the joints, it often results in inflammation: “Osteoarthritis usually occurs in the hands and weight-bearing joints such as hips, knees, feet and spine.” 2. Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints and the surrounding areas, and affects the cartilage in between those joints. Cartilage covers the ends of the bones and is between joints. Its purpose is to help the bones glide over each other smoothly and without friction. Cartilage also helps absorb shock when these joints are in motion. As the cartilage wears down, the bones start to rub against each other, causing friction that leads to pain, swelling and, eventually, loss of motion in the joint. As the bones rub together, it is possible that bits of cartilage or bone can chip off and fall apart, due to the lack of cartilage to cushion the joints. These fragments of cartilage and bone can often lodge themselves in the joint area which leads to even more pain and suffering. Although there is no single, clear answer to what causes osteoarthritis, several factors have been identified as culprits:
- Age plays the biggest role in causing osteoarthritis. The older you are, the higher your risk is of having osteoarthritis or other forms of arthritis.
- Weight can also be a factor, as increased weight puts more pressure on the joints and can further wear down cartilage.
- If the joints have been overused from physical activity like sports or occupations, this can lead to osteoarthritis later in life.
- Other causes of this painful disease include joint injury, joint deformities, or genetic defects in joint cartilage. 3
Sufferers of osteoarthritis first identify symptoms such as stiffness in the hands, knees, hips and spine areas. The stiffness can also occur after sitting for long periods of time or when you first get out of bed in the morning. Swelling or tenderness is usually felt in the affected joint areas. Those with osteoarthritis can often hear the “crunch” or sound of the bones as they rub together. Physicians commonly identify osteoarthritis in patients by conducting a physical exam and reviewing a patient’s medical history (past injuries or trauma). If needed, a doctor can also perform an X-ray and even administer a blood test. Although there is no known cure for osteoarthritis, it is fairly treatable and there are many ways to reduce and possibly eliminate the pain of osteoarthritis. Millions of people who deal with osteoarthritis on a daily basis try a variety of treatments until they find some that work for them and their needs, often times they are simple and inexpensive.
Here we examine the 7 best treatments for relieving pain and battling osteoarthritis.