Osteoarthritis (better called osteoarthrosis since there is rarely inflammation) is a degenerative joint disease that causes degeneration of the articular cartilage (the cartilage covering the ends of bones forming a joint). The cartilage breaks up, and the bone beneath either thins or overgrows irregularly. These bony growths, known as “spurs” or “lipping”, grow around the margins of the joint.
Half of those forty years of age and older show signs of osteoarthritis, most commonly in the joints of the spine, hip, knee, and fingers. What causes osteoarthritis is not precisely known, although it may result from the aging process. Injuries and excessive pressure on a joint from overweight or overuse appear to contribute to the problem.
The process may continue for years without producing any symptoms. Pain usually results from a direct injury to a joint with local inflammation. Range of motion may diminish, and the muscles around the joint tend to weaken due to disuse. Bony overgrowths along the spine may press against nerves, causing pain, and muscle spasm. The disease may be handicapping, but is not life-threatening.
Natural things that you can do for osteoarthritis
Since no specific cure for the disease exists, you must adapt to the problem, altering your lifestyle so as to prolong your productive usefulness. You can adopt a number of simple measures which will prove to be extremely helpful. If you’re obese, normalizing your weight will reduce wear and tear on weight-bearing joints (knee, hip, and spine). Exercise regularly within toleration, and move each affected joint through its full range of motion each day. Applying dry heat to a painful joint often brings relief. Avoid over fatigue, and sleep on a firm mattress. Refrain from overexerting involved joints.
The market offers an almost limitless number of remedies for the relief and cure of osteoarthritis; therefore, you should seek counsel from your physician before trying any alternative treatments.
Things that your doctor can do for osteoarthritis
Your doctor may have blood tests and X-rays done to evaluate your general health and the precise condition of your involved joints. He may prescribe aspirin for severe pain. Steroids are used where aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents fail to give relief; however, these agents also have undesirable side effects. Cortisone may be injected directly into an inflamed joint to avoid a general response, but the number of times this can be done is limited. Your doctor may suggest a series of treatments from a physical therapist.
In severe cases, joint replacement may restore function in the hip, knee, or shoulder.