What is osteoarthritis (OA)?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. Some people call it degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. It occurs most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees.
With OA, the cartilage within a joint begins to break down and the underlying bone begins to change. These changes usually develop slowly and get worse over time. OA can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. In some cases, it also causes reduced function and disability; some people are no longer able to do daily tasks or work.
How many people have OA?
OA affects over 32.5 million US adults.
What causes OA?
OA is caused by damage or breakdown of joint cartilage between bones.
What are the risk factors for OA?
Joint injury or overuse—Injury or overuse, such as knee bending and repetitive stress on a joint, can damage a joint and increase the risk of OA in that joint.
Age—The risk of developing OA increases with age.
Gender—Women are more likely to develop OA than men, especially after age 50.
Obesity—Extra weight puts more stress on joints, particularly weight-bearing joints like the hips and knees. This stress increases the risk of OA in that joint. Obesity may also have metabolic effects that increase the risk of OA.
Genetics—People who have family members with OA are more likely to develop OA. People who have hand OA are more likely to develop knee OA.
Race— Some Asian populations have lower risk for OA.
How is OA diagnosed?
A doctor diagnoses OA through a review of symptoms, physical examination, X-rays, and lab tests.
Can Extra pounds can make things worse?
Excess weight not only puts extra pressure on the joints, it may also trigger inflammation and other changes that increase pain and stiffness, said the authors of a March study in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The researchers estimated that half the cases of osteoarthritis of the knee in the United States could be avoided if obese Americans could reduce their weight
Is Exercise a good option?
For people who suffer from osteoarthritis, the idea of using exercise to reduce pain is often met with skepticism. Many of them have experienced greater osteoarthritis pain when they’ve upped their levels of activity, which is whys exercise for osteoarthritis patients as “a double-edged sword.” “When you rest the joint, you tend to feel less pain,” she says, but the inactivity can ultimately lead to more discomfort. Exercise, on the other hand, strengthens the muscles around the joint, which ultimately helps to reduce pain. Exercise also releases endorphins, which moderate pain, and helps overweight patients lose weight and reduce the stress on their joints,
Low-impact exercises like swimming, water aerobics, walking and biking will put the least strain on the joints. Yoga has also proved beneficial for decreasing osteoarthritis pain and improving patients’ quality of life.