Osteoarthritis, sometimes referred to simply as OA, affects many individuals. It is common for elderly patients to suffer the symptoms of osteoarthritis, but the disease has the ability to affect anyone. While the elderly often face osteoarthritis due to aging joints, a much younger patient may suffer from the condition due to an injury or even obesity.
What is osteoarthritis?
There are many different variations of osteoarthritis. The types are named based on the joint that is affected. Some are more common than others, and symptoms and treatments may change based on the type suffered by the patient. In particular, osteoarthritis may affect the neck, shoulders, spine, hands, hips, knees, ankles, or feet. Pain in the joints and aching or swelling may ensue due to osteoarthritis.
What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?
The most common symptom associated with osteoarthritis is pain in the joints. This usually occurs after excessive use. Therefore, patients will often feel the pain intensify as the day goes on. However, the pain can also occur on the opposite side of the spectrum, after extensive periods of non-use. Sitting for long periods of time, for example, may increase the pain felt in joints due to osteoarthritis. Swelling and creaking of the joints may also occur.
While the symptoms are typically predictable, the intensity of the pain changes from patient to patient. Some individuals see severe debilitation due to osteoarthritis. In these severe cases, the cartilage between the joints has worn almost completely away, causing friction between the bones. This will make even the slightest movements extremely painful. On the other hand, some people will see intervals between the pain or limited pain entirely.
How is osteoarthritis treated?
There is no tried and true cure for osteoarthritis. However, there are some treatments that can help relieve the pain and promote better mobility of the affected joints.
The easiest way to calm the symptoms of osteoarthritis is to live a healthy lifestyle. Losing weight can dramatically change the pain associated with osteoarthritis. Exercising regularly will promote better mobility and take the burden off of those weakened joints. Ice packs or heating pads can have a massive effect on how your joints feel, and they can also reduce the swelling. There are also a number of medications and pain-relievers out there designed especially for patients with osteoarthritis.
In many cases, non-surgical therapies and alternative treatments, such as pain relief injections, can be used to reduce pain felt as a result of osteoarthritis.