What is Osteoarthritis

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that mostly affects cartilage. Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide over each other. It also helps absorb shock of movement.

In osteoarthritis, the top layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away. This allows bones under the cartilage to rub together. The rubbing causes pain, swelling, and loss of motion of the joint. Over time, the joint may lose its normal shape.

Also, bone spurs may grow on the edges of the joint. Bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float inside the joint space, which causes more pain and damage.

People with osteoarthritis often have joint pain and reduced motion. Unlike some other forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis affects only joints and not internal organs.

Rheumatoid arthritis – the second most common form of arthritis – affects other parts of the body besides the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis.

What is Osteoarthritis and Who Gets Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis occurs most often in older people. Younger people sometimes get osteoarthritis primarily from joint injuries.

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

The cause of osteoarthritis is unknown. Factors that might cause it include:

  • Being overweight

  • Getting older

  • Joint injury

  • Joints that are not properly formed

  • A genetic defect in joint cartilage

  • Stresses on the joints from certain jobs and playing sports

How Is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?

Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint. It occurs most often in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

Warning signs of osteoarthritis are:

  • Stiffness in a joint after getting out of bed or sitting for a long time

  • Swelling or tenderness in one or more joints

  • A crunching feeling or the sound of bone rubbing on bone

No single test can diagnose osteoarthritis. Most doctors use several methods to diagnose the disease and rule out other problems:

  • Medical history
  • Physical exam
  • X rays
  • Other tests such as blood tests or exams of the fluid in the joints

How Is Osteoarthritis Treated?

Doctors often combine treatments to fit a patient’s needs, lifestyle, and health. Osteoarthritis treatment has four main goals:

  • Improve joint function

  • Keep a healthy body weight
  • Control pain
  • Achieve a healthy lifestyle

Osteoarthritis treatment plans can involve:

  • Exercise

  • Weight control

  • Rest and joint care

  • Nondrug pain relief techniques to control pain Medicines
  • Complementary and alternative therapies

  • Surgery

What is Osteoarthritis

How Can Self-Care and a “Good-Health Attitude” Help?

Three kinds of programs help people learn about what is osteoarthritis, self-care, and how to maintain their good-health attitude:

  • Patient education programs
  • Arthritis self-management programs

  • Arthritis support groups

These programs teach people about what is osteoarthritis and its treatments. They also have clear and long-lasting benefits. People in these programs learn to:

  • Exercise and relax
  • Talk with their doctor or other health care providers

  • Solve problems

People with osteoarthritis find that self-management programs help them:

  • Understand what is osteoarthritis

  • Reduce pain while staying active
  • Cope with their body, mind, and emotions

  • Have more control over the disease
  • Live an active, independent life

People with a good-health attitude:

  • Focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do

  • Focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses
  • Break down activities into small tasks that are easy to manage
  • Build fitness and healthy eating into their daily routines

  • Develop ways to lower and manage stress

  • Balance rest with activity
  • Develop a support system of family, friends, and health care providers

What Research Is Being Done on Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is not simply a disease of “wear and tear” that happens in joints as people get older. There is more to the disease than aging alone. Researchers are studying:

  • Tools to detect osteoarthritis earlier

  • Genes
  • Tissue engineering
  • A wide range of treatment strategies

  • Osteoarthritis in animals

  • Medicines to prevent joint damage

  • Complementary and alternative therapies

  • Vitamins and other supplements

  • Injection of hyaluronic acid (a natural part of cartilage and joint fluid)

  • Estrogen

  • Biological and structural markers (biomarkers) for osteoarthritis

What is osteoarthritis

If you have arthritis, you may wonder about the helpfulness of particular supplements or diets to improve your symptoms. Research seems to support a general consensus that cold-water-fish oils can indeed reduce the pain, inflammation and joint tenderness caused by arthritis.

Scientists also are studying whether certain diets can reduce the severity of arthritis. Some research suggests that following a vegetarian diet might help be a useful part of treating the disease.

It's hard to know exactly why these diets may be effective in reducing symptoms of arthritis. Is it limiting or eliminating meat that makes the difference - or is it including more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables? Nevertheless, the results - though preliminary - are intriguing.

The value of fruits, vegetables and whole grains to human health is not limited to the natural antioxidants they contain.

The best antioxidant diet, one that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, could also be the best diet to prevent other diseases like; heart disease, cancer, type II diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases or chronic and age-related diseases of all types. This type of diet could equal a longer and healthier life.

Some studies have shown that the antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables may protect joints--especially the knee--from the ravages of osteoarthritis (OA). Here are a few of the studies' findings:

  • People with high intakes of vitamin C and beta-carotene had a reduced risk of knee pain and disease progression.
  • Certain antioxidants (including lutein and lycopene, among others) were associated with lower risk of knee OA.
  • Vitamin E eased arthritis pain better than a placebo or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

To be sure that you're getting enough beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, and vitamin C, eat lots of carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, tomato sauce and tomato juice, oranges, kiwifruit, and strawberries.

To get the amount of vitamin E that most experts advise, you'll need a vitamin E supplement containing 400 international units (IU). Since OA progression was three times higher in people with low levels of vitamin D, it's best to take a multivitamin/mineral supplement with 100 percent of the Daily Value for D.

If you do not always get your recommended 7-13 servings per day, whole food supplements maybe one of the best sources of antioxidants in capsule form. These contain the multiple antioxidants necessary for the body to maintain its complex systems, not the isolated forms found in most supplements.

Much more than what is osteoarthritis discussed back at the Home Page

What is Osteoarthritis

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What is Osteoarthritis