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Osteoarthritis: Causes and Treatments

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Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic joint disease. It occurs when the protective tissue or cartilage breaks down, causing bone friction. This leads to stiffness, pain and inflammation. These become more intense when it becomes more advanced. This condition affects millions of people worldwide. Symptomatic knee OA occurs in 10% of men and 13% of women aged 60 and above in the US, according to an article by National Centre For Biotechnology Information.

The number is only likely to increase due to the obesity epidemic in America. So, it is crucial to understand what leads to this condition. This can help you lessen the daily stress on your joints. So, if you have been experiencing redness, tenderness or immobility, consult a rehabilitation centre ASAP. Further, here’s an insight into osteoarthritis.

What causes osteoarthritis?

Age is one of the most significant causes of this degenerative disorder. This is why physical therapists conduct exercises that are solely designed to promote strength to your joints that aim at increasing the range of motion and facilitate strength gains, according to Coastal Home Rehab. The other causes are dislocated joints, torn cartilage, ligament wear and tear and similar past injuries.

A cartilage cushions the bone ends in the joints. This helps in easy and free movements. But it tends to deteriorate gradually and the bones start rubbing against each other. This is when osteoarthritis develops and causes swelling in the linings.

There are several other risk factors. For example, obesity, genetics, occupations involving repetitive movements and sex can increase the chances of developing osteoarthritis, according to an article by Medical News Today. Other causes are bone deformities, metabolic diseases like diabetes and joint injuries. You might experience sleep disorders and restlessness due to pain and immobility.

Treatment options for osteoarthritis

There is no complete cure for this condition. But the good news is that physical or occupational therapy is ideal. It encourages movement which is extremely beneficial for the patient. You are provided with relieving techniques to allow you to optimize the function. Seniors are also recommended walking aids and limiting weight-bearing activities. These help in progressing the ability to perform day-to-day tasks. There are a few other methods that can be helpful along with therapy. Take a look. 

  • Over-the-counter medications like ointments and gels can be effective to manage discomfort. However, make sure to consult your doctor beforehand.
  • Cortisone injections and lubrication injections are administered in advanced forms of osteoarthritis. These can offer cushioning, which can relieve the pain.
  • Sufficient sleep can rest your muscles, reduce inflammation and manage the pain more effectively, according to an article by Healthline.
  • Heat and cold therapy are useful to cure muscle stiffness and sore joints. Apply for at least 15–20 minutes each day.
  • Losing a few pounds can reduce the pressure on the joints, which is helpful to manage osteoarthritis. 

Your ability to cope with the condition plays a key role in the success of the treatment. So, talk to your therapist for a customised plan for a speedy recovery.

Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has a particular interest in mental health and well-being.

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