There is nothing more depressing than some doctor telling you that you have arthritis. You kind of know that just from the things you hear that this is not good news. The truth is that it is definitely not good news. The good news is that you have ways of dealing with it.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and it affects over 27 million people in the U.S. alone. In fact, it is speculated that as many as 15-20 million others are suffering with OA and don’t even know it.
What has happened to cause this painful condition is a “deterioration of cartilage inside your joints.” I realize that the word “deterioration” is a pretty strong word but it is what has happened.
Typically, most of us refer to OA as just “arthritis.” It is a very painful condition and it will have a very serious impact on your life if you do not understand how to deal with it.
Every joint in your body has spongy tissue at the ends of joints which is called cartilage. It is cartilage that serves to protect bones from coming into contact with one another and it allows for all of our movement. Without cartilage, you would be in excruciating pain.
As you get older, that protective cartilage starts to break down. And, that is especially true of those joints that get a lot of repetitive motion. As well, injuries can cause cartilage to deteriorate as well. It is called “secondary arthritis”) At this point, bones no longer have the protection that cartilage gave them and they have no other cushion to protect them.
This progressive disease causes your joints to lack the ability to function as they should. Stiffness and pain begin to appear and your ability to move and your range of motion diminishes.
This is OA.
Just about anyone can have OA and it can happen even in younger people. That is not normally the case and it is more likely to happen in aging adults. There are also other factors that leave someone prone to arthritis.:
Anyone who is over the age of 65 is at greater risk of developing OA. That makes sense because cartilage is subjected to wear so as we age, there has been a lot of degeneration.
When you suffer an injury to a bony part of your body is usually going to lead to the OA developing. A young athlete who gets hurt on the field is going to have arthritis earlier in life than an individual who did not have an injury.
Females are more prone to developing OA than their male counterparts. And unfortunately, there is no known medical reason as to why that would happen.
If you had family members who suffered from OA, you are more likely to have it.
Those who are carrying extra pounds will have two issues here. First, the wear on cartilage is greater in someone who is overweight. And, pain is greater for those who are overweight.
And, let me add a footnote here: Move an imaginary line across your waist. Everything below that line is carrying your excess weight down all the way to your toes. For every 10 lbs. of excess weight, the impact is four times greater. That means that your lower body is carrying 40 lbs. worth of trouble for OA.
And, you can do the math. Divide 10 into the number of excess pounds your body has and look at the results.
Any pain in joint areas that continues on a regular basis is likely arthritis. See a doctor and get an official diagnosis! It is much easier to deal with this disease the right way if you know what is ailing you.
OA is the most common form of arthritis as we already said. But, there are autoimmune diseases that can mimic the pain of OA. Rheumatoid arthritis; Spondylosis; and Inflammatory Arthritis are the prominent examples. Those diseases are characterized by inflammation and swelling in your joints. The latter is notable. You don’t get inflammation around your joints with OA.
Arthritis is painful but the first step you need to take is “many steps.” By that I mean you need to get active and stay active. Exercise is beneficial for arthritis sufferers and those who do not stay active are going to increase their pain.
Once you have a diagnosis, it has isolated the area of concern and it will give you some idea of how much exercise you can handle and how far you can take it. As well, having a clear diagnosis will allow your doctor to give you a treatment plan to get things under control.
Keeping up an active lifestyle is not only helpful, it is essential.
Of course, there are prescription medications for OA. But, you need to be aware that these medications have side effects and as well, they are expensive. So, it may come down to a choice for you.
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