Osteoarthritis is a medical condition which occurs when a protective cartilage which is placed at the ends of your bones wears down due to wear and tear. It usually affects the joints of your spine, hips, knees and hands. Osteoarthritis is considered the most common form of arthritis. Being active and leading a healthy lifestyle can slow down the development of this disease. Certain medications can also improve the joint function and improve pain.
Arthritis, as the word itself indicates inflammation of joints, is a common term that includes any part of the body. On the other hand, Osteoarthritis is specifically inflammation of joints in the knees, hips, fingers, and joints at the thumb base or big toe base. Besides this, it shows the involvement of the spine too. It is basically a type of arthritis that has its own characteristic features.
Out of all types of arthritis, Osteoarthritis is the most common, involving inflammation of joints, which affects knees, hips, and hands. It has four stages. Stage 0 does not involve any inflammation of joints while there is inflammation to a much lesser extent in Stage 1, accompanied by the least chances of symptoms.
Symptoms of joint pain start to appear in Stage 2, manageable by doing exercises, followed by Stage 3 which shows signs of erosion in the cartilage between bones, leading to frequent pain. Stage 4 is the advanced phase, characterized by severe pain and discomfort due to stiffness of joints.
Osteoarthritis can be considered a disability based on the severity of the condition. In case the symptoms are severe, one may not be able to perform the basic works related to his/her job, and this way the individual can be considered suitable to avail the benefits of Social Security disability i.e SSA. The medical evidence related to the diagnosis should be matched to the points listed in the blue book of SSA in order to avail of its benefits.
Osteoarthritis usually occurs when the cartilage (a slippery and firm tissue that allows frictionless joint motion) which cushions the bones inside your joints start deteriorating. The surface beneath the cartilage starts becoming rough. If the cartilage is damaged completely, the bones can be rubbing together without a protective barrier in between. This can cause immense pain and discomfort.
Risk factors which can make you susceptible in developing Osteoarthritis:
Osteoarthritis can be diagnosed by an orthopedic specialist. Usually tests like Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or X-rays are performed. These tests confirm the cartilage loss and bone spurs surrounding the affected joint. Sometimes, lab tests like blood test and Joint fluid analysis is carried out to analyze joint or blood fluid levels in your bone. These tests also confirm whether or not you have Osteoarthritis. Sometimes symptoms of Osteoarthritis can be similar to joint infection, gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
Food is always associated with the betterment or worsening of the symptoms of a disease. The same is with the case of Osteoarthritis, in which some foods that aggravate the condition, need to be avoided. These include large amounts of sugar and salt, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, omega-6 fatty acids, dairy products, and monosodium glutamate.
As Osteoarthritis is related to the joints, which in turn is associated with the bones, it clearly states that vitamin D is significantly needed in this case. Osteoarthritis is accompanied by poor bone health which results in weakening and thinning of the bones, especially in older age groups. Vitamin D helps in preventing the thinning of bones as well as its anti-inflammatory properties allow an improvement in bone health.
Although the pain in Osteoarthritis does not allow the person to do exercises, exercise is quite effective in such cases which allows increased movement of joints and also helps in pain reduction. Different types of exercises that are preferred include flexibility exercises, strengthening exercises, aerobics, walking, and aquatic exercises. Each of the exercises has its own importance in the improvement of the condition of Osteoarthritis.
Walking is a form of exercise and exercises are medically preferred in case of Osteoarthritis. They allow the movement of joints and prevent stiffness and muscle weakness. If someone is unable to do exercises due to symptoms of pain, he or she should do a walk for a few minutes at least. Exercise improves the lifestyle and helps in minimizing the symptoms such as pain.
Summary: Osteoarthritis is a health condition characterized by inflammation of joints in the knees, hips, fingers, joints at the thumb base or big toe base, and spine. It is accompanied by poor bone health which results in weakening and thinning of the bones, especially in older age groups. It cannot be cured but can be controlled and managed by physical exercises and diet changes.