Osteoarthritis is one of the most prevalent ailments among the middle-aged and the elderly. This disease is one of the hallmark indicators of aging. Millions of people worldwide suffer from this condition, which can be painful enough to impact your quality of life. Furthermore, there is currently no magic bullet that can cure osteoarthritis.
However, proper management can slow down progression of the disease and help control your symptoms. Knowing more about what the condition is and what to look out for is a good place to start.
Basic Mechanism of Osteoarthritis
The joints of the body need to have low friction to function effectively and prevent the joint ends from wearing out. The body accomplishes this by coating joint surfaces with cartilage, a supple but durable tissue that allows surfaces to slide smoothly past each other.
However, cartilage is difficult to repair, especially as a person ages. Over time, the cartilage can become rough due to wear and tear. The increased friction can irritate the surrounding tissue, causing pain and inflammation. In some cases, the cartilage is worn down completely, leaving the underlying bone exposed.
Causes, Symptoms, and Complications of Osteoarthritis
Your gender plays a role in determining your risk of developing osteoarthritis, with women being more at risk. The reason for this is still unclear, although estrogen is expected to play a role. Estrogen levels decrease as a woman ages, and estrogen helps maintain bone and joint health. Other factors include genetics, physical activity, and overuse of particular joints.
Osteoarthritis can lead to visible swelling and inflammation of the joints. People may also find it hard to move the joint properly, as it can become stiff. A grating sensation, akin to the rubbing of sandpaper, may sometimes be felt. A loss of flexibility also occurs, severely limiting the range of motion of the affected joints. Finally, bone spurs may form, further restricting movement.
The complications of osteoarthritis arise from this pain and loss of motion. Daily tasks may eventually become impossible to accomplish, and sufferers become more susceptible to accidents. Osteoarthritis can lead to bone breaks that may require hospitalization.
In many cases, lifestyle changes can halt the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis. Increasing physical activity and performing special exercises designed to restore lost flexibility to a joint can lead to marked improvements. Anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers can enable people to carry out more strenuous activities.
In severe cases, performing joint replacement surgery might be necessary. While the procedure is invasive, adequate post-procedure physical therapy and support can go a long way toward ensuring a good outcome.
Orthopedic Specialists in the NE Tennessee
The orthopedic specialists at Watauga Orthopaedics can help diagnose you for osteoarthritis and other bone and joint conditions. Our trained staff and state-of-the-art equipment ensure you receive the best care you can get.
Call Watauga Orthopaedics at (423) 282-9011 or request an appointment now and get top-notch health care at cost-effective rates.