Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?
- Pain or tenderness in your joint during or after you move.
- Joint stiffness when you wake up in the morning or after a period of inactivity.
- Being unable to move your joint to its full extent.
- Hearing or feeling a grating sensation when you move your joint.
- A hard lump (bone spur) around a painful joint.
If some of these rings a bell, you may be suffering from osteoarthritis. It’s the most common form of arthritis that occurs when the cartilage – the firm but slippery tissue that normally cushions your joints – gradually wears down. The end result is often bone on bone friction that can actually warp or deform the bone, resulting in painful inflammation and reduced mobility.
Osteoarthritis can strike anywhere – your knees, your hips, your hands, or your spine – and if left untreated can worsen to the point where the cartilage may deteriorate completely, and the pain and stiffness could become so severe that it makes it difficult to perform daily tasks.
The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases as you age. Also, women are also more likely to have it than men. Other people genetically inherit the condition, while some are born with defective cartilage or malformed joints that boost their risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life.
However, there are other risk factors that can be effectively managed to avoid developing osteoarthritis. For instance, excess body weight puts added stress on weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees. Plus, fat tissue produces proteins that can cause joint inflammation. So, controlling your weight can help lower your risk for osteoarthritis.
Another risk factor involves occupations that require tasks that place repetitive stress on particular joints. Construction work, manufacturing, truck driving, teaching, professional athletics, and even playing a musical instrument can wear down your joints due to heavy lifting, poor posture, or working on your feet. Taking steps to reduce workplace repetitive stress can only help preserve effective joint function.
And, of course, there are the injuries sustained from playing contact sports or being in an accident. These may heal in the short term, but they increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis in the long term. Which is why it’s important to wear protective gear and avoid hazardous situations.
So, what can you do to slow the progression of osteoarthritis or help improve joint function and relieve pain, besides staying active and maintaining a healthy weight?
First and foremost, see your doctor as soon as you have joint pain or stiffness that doesn’t go away. There are numerous therapies your doctor may recommend including stretching exercises, hydrotherapy, physical therapy and acupuncture.
If necessary, your doctor can also prescribe medication to relieve pain in the form of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), analgesics, or dietary supplements.
If you want to know more about osteoarthritis or are looking for a qualified, experienced orthopedic surgeon in Broward County, Florida, call Total Orthopaedic Care (T.O.C.) at 954-735-3535. You can also request an appointment online, to come in and go over all of your options with a board-certified orthopedic surgeon.