Movement of the human body happens as a result of coordinated movement between the bones and the muscles. There are also cartilages that enable bones to move over and against each other, enabling body movement. Like other body parts, these are also prone to normal wear and tear. This causes bone movement to become less elastic, more rigid, and painful. This pain and inflammation of the bone joints is termed medically as osteoarthritis. It is one of the degenerative joint disease (DJD) of the bones and is a chronic condition.
As noted above, the main cause of osteoarthritis is aging. However, injuries with damage to the bones and muscles also cause osteoarthritis. With obesity on the rise, many patients are experiencing osteoarthritis as a result of increased weight gain also, as the bones are not able to take the excessive weight.
The most common symptoms include painful and stiff joints. When the movement becomes painful, there is lesser mobility, thereby leading to more weight gain. In severe cases, there could also be swelling of the joints. There could be a "crackling" sound that is typical of onset of osteoarthritis. The stiffness is more common during the later hours of the day and after prolonged period of inactivity, for instance, sitting for long hours.
Though the symptoms associated with injury and/or old age can be quite diagnostic, a doctor can confirm with a formal checkup if it is indeed osteoarthritis. X-rays and test of the joint fluid can also be used for further confirmation.
Osteoarthritis needs to be treated in a multi-pronged approach. As noted earlier, this condition leads to a vicious cycle leading to weight gain. Therefore, the treatment should be aimed at improving movement, reducing pain, reducing weight, and adapting a healthier lifestyle. Also, though it may not be completely prevented, the onset can be delayed by choosing a healthier lifestyle during the younger years of life. Exercise and weight control can definitely prolong the onset of the condition.
There is a strong genetic component that is mapped to this condition. So, if you are aware of an existing family history, it should trigger you to undertake preventive measures earlier in life. Adapting a healthy lifestyle definitely can be helpful in numerous way, prolonging and reducing the severity of osteoarthritis being one of them. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an Orthopedist.