What Causes Osteoarthritis? What Lifestyle Changes & Treatment Can Help?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic & de – generative condition of joint. A joint is where two bones meet each other. The edges of these bones are protected with a special type of flexible tissue called Cartilage. With OA, this cartilage gradually breaks down, causing friction within the edges of bones within the joint. These can lead to pain, muscle stiffness, and other symptoms. OA occurs most often in older people, although it can occur in adults of any age, more commonly in female after menopause.

What is a Cartilage?
Cartilage is a tough and rubbery substance but it is flexible and softer than bone. Cartilage’s function is to protect the edges of bones within a joint so that they don’t collide with each other and rather move easily against each other. When a tear occurs in this cartilage, these bone surfaces become pitted and rough. This causes pain within the joint, and irritation in surrounding tissues. Since our cartilages don’t contain any blood vessels they can’t be healed naturally.
With complete wearing away of the cartilage, the cushioning protection between the joints disappears and thus, intense bone-on-bone contact occurs. This can cause severe pain, movement disability and other symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.

Causes of OA –
OA is considered as one of the leading causes of disability among adults. OA is mostly caused by joint damage. This damage can take place with time, which is why age is one of the main causes of the joint damage leading to osteoarthritis. The older you are, the more wear and tear you’ve had on your joints and the more you are prone to osteoarthritis.
Other causes of joint damage include past injury; severe injury acquired from sports, such as:
• Torn cartilage
• Dislocated joints
• Ligament injuries
• Joint malformation
• Obesity
• Poor posture.

OA can occur in any joint. But mostly it affects:
• Knees
• Hips
• Spine, typically at the neck or lower back
• Hands; shoulder and elbow joint
• Fingertips

Osteoarthritis symptoms –
The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
• Joint pain
• Decreased movements of joint
• Tenderness (discomfort when pressing on the area with your fingers)
• Muscle stiffness
• Inflammation.

Osteoarthritis diagnosis –
OA is a slow-developing disease that is hard to diagnose until it starts to cause unbearable joint pain and movement disability. In some cases, early OA is often diagnosed after a sports trauma or accident that causes a fracture requiring an X-ray.
Apart from X-rays, your doctor may sometime use an MRI scan to diagnose OA. This imaging test uses radio waves and a magnetic field to create images of bone and soft tissue.

Osteoarthritis treatment –
OA treatment revolves around symptom management. Generally lifestyle changes, over-the-counter (OTC) medication, regular doctor consultation, exercises will be enough to relieve your pain, stiffness, and swelling.
Some major treatment of Osteoarthritis involves:

Physical activity strengthens the muscles around your joints and may help relieve stiffness. Aim for at least 20 to 30 minutes of light to moderate physical movement, at least alternative days of the week. Choose gentle, low-impact activities, such as walking, jogging or swimming. Yoga is also very helpful in improving joint flexibility and reducing pain management.

Weight loss
Being overweight can put strain on your joints and cause pain. Shedding excess body weight helps relieve this pressure and reduces pain.

Adequate sleep
Resting your muscles timely can reduce swelling and inflammation. Getting enough sleep at night can also help you to manage pain more effectively.

Heat and cold therapy
You can apply heat or cold therapy to relieve the pain and stiffness of muscle. Apply a cold or hot compress to sore joints for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day. Try using heat before exercise to loosen up muscles and cold afterwards to minimize any pain.

Proper Diet
Include fish oil, green tea, ginger in your daily diet since these properties help reduce the pain and inflammation.

Joint Replacement Surgery
Joint replacement or other surgical procedures are sometimes considered the “treatment of last resort” for people with osteoarthritis. If surgery is needed it must not be delayed. It may be time to have knee replacement surgery if you have:
1. Severe knee pain that limits your everyday activities
2. Moderate or severe knee pain while resting, day or night
3. Knee inflammation and swelling that doesn’t get better with exercise, rest or medications
4. Bending of knees

Joint replacement surgery involves excision of all or part of the particular joint and replacing the damaged parts with artificial joints (made of alloys of metals & medical grade plastics). After a joint replacement surgery one may take months to recover fully, but the relief can last many years or even a lifetime.

Arthroscopic Surgery
Arthroscopic surgery is a minimal invasive surgery where the surgeon inserts a thin tube with a tiny camera on the end through a small opening in your skin to view the inside of your joint. The surgeon can then remove the damaged cartilage. In this procedure your bone edges are cleaned to remove loose bodies or cartilage pieces which are the main reason behind your joint pain. People can get back to their usual activities a few days after this surgery. In fact the recovery process usually isn’t that painful.

These practices are helpful for and improving your movement & the quality of life.

Apart from all these it’s important to keep in regular touch with your Orthopaedic doctor who can guide your OA treatment in systematic way, providing proper consultation, medication and exercises, even after you have undergone joint replacement or arthroscopic surgery. So do not skip consultation with your Orthopaedic doctor.

Consult the best Orthopaedic doctor in Siliguri to treat arthritis –
If you are looking for an orthopaedic doctor, visit Neotia Getwel Healthcare Centre, Siliguri. The hospital has a dedicated team of experienced Orthopaedic Surgeons who can help you seek relief from Osteoarthritis & all kinds of bone-related problems. The department of Orthopaedics & Joint Replacement also has a modern physiotherapy unit. Book an appointment here .