Monday, July 9, 2012

Health Care and Osteoarthritis

Arthritis afflicts millions of Americans, and in some cases this health care malady can be very severe in its effect on your ability to live without pain. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disorder, which is due to aging and wear and tear on a joint, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Pain and stiffness in the joints are the most common symptoms. The pain is often worse after exercise and when you put weight or pressure on the joint.

If you have osteoarthritis, your joints probably become stiffer and harder to move over time. You may notice a rubbing, grating, or crackling sound when you move the joint, according to the NIH. The phrase "morning stiffness" refers to the pain and stiffness you may feel when you first wake up in the morning. Stiffness usually lasts for 30 minutes or less. It is improved by mild activity that "warms up" the joint. During the day, the pain may get worse when you're active and feel better when you are resting. After a while, the pain may be present when you are resting. It may even wake you up at night. Some people might not have symptoms, even though x-rays show the changes of OA.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, http://www.arthritis.org/ , it is thought that osteoarthritis dates back to ancient humans. Evidence of osteoarthritis has been found in ice-aged skeletons. Today, an estimated 27 million Americans live with OA. Despite the longevity and frequency of the disease, the cause is still not completely known and there is no cure. In fact, many different factors may play a role in whether or not you get OA, including age, obesity, injury or overuse and genetics. Your OA could be caused by any one or by a combination of any of these factors. There are several stages of osteoarthritis:

• Cartilage loses elasticity and is more easily damaged by injury or use.
• Wear of cartilage causes changes to underlying bone. The bone thickens and cysts may occur under the cartilage. Bony growths, called spurs or osteophytes, develop near the end of the bone at the affected joint.
• Bits of bone or cartilage float loosely in the joint space.
• The joint lining, or the synovium, becomes inflamed due to cartilage breakdown causing cytokines (inflammation proteins) and enzymes that damage cartilage further.

Changes in the cartilage and bones of the joint can lead to pain, stiffness and use limitations. Deterioration of cartilage can:

• Affect the shape and makeup of the joint so it doesn’t function smoothly. This can mean that you limp when you walk or have trouble going up and down stairs.
• Cause fragments of bone and cartilage to float in joint fluid causing irritation and pain.
• Cause bony spurs, called osteophytes, to develop near the ends of bones
• Mean the joint fluid doesn’t have enough hyaluronan, which affects the joint’s ability to absorb shock.

Much more detail about osteoarthritis can be found at this website: http://www.arthritis.org/osteoarthritis.php . Additionally, according to the online magazine, Arthritis Today, treatment for osteoarthritis is readily available. For more material about this subject, go to this website: http://www.arthritistoday.org/conditions/osteoarthritis/treatment/index.php .

According to the NIH, A physical exam can show:

• Joint movement may cause a cracking (grating) sound, called crepitation
• Joint swelling (bones around the joints may feel larger than normal)
• Limited range of motion
• Tenderness when the joint is pressed
• Normal movement is often painful

No blood tests are helpful in diagnosing OA. An x-ray of affected joints will show a loss of the joint space. In advanced cases, there will be a wearing down of the ends of the bone and bone spurs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), overall OA affects 13.9% of adults aged 25 and older and 33.6% (12.4 million) of those 65+; an estimated 26.9 million US adults in 2005 up from 21 million in 1990 (believed to be conservative estimate). A lot of facts about the demographics of who is affected by osteoarthritis can be found at their website: http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm .

Plus, here are ten facts most people don’t know about Osteoarthritis, located at this website: http://osteoarthritis.about.com/od/osteoarthritis101/a/osteoarthritis_facts.htm . One of those facts: Osteoarthritis accounts for approximately 6% of arthritis-related deaths. About 500 deaths per year are attributed to osteoarthritis. The number has risen in the last 10 years. It should be noted that the number may underestimate the true contribution of osteoarthritis to mortality and is hard to compare. For example, death from NSAID use is not counted.

Every person with OA is different, according to the NIH. Pain and stiffness may prevent one person from performing simple daily activities, while others are able to maintain an active lifestyle that includes sports and other activities. Your movement may become very limited over time. Doing everyday activities, such as personal hygiene, household chores, or cooking may become a challenge. Treatment usually improves function. Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of OA that get worse.

Treatment for osteoarthritis pain starts with educating yourself about the disease, according to EverydayHealth. Lifestyle changes such as avoiding overuse of the joint, proper exercise, and weight loss are the first steps toward managing your pain. Your doctor may also start you on pain medications if you need them. Studies show that the best method of controlling osteoarthritis pain is with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. More info about various problems based on physical location of the disease in your body can be found at this site: http://www.everydayhealth.com/osteoarthritis/arthritis-pain-and-your-body.aspx .

Osteoarthritis can be painful and debilitating. However, treatment and medication are available. For more details on how you can deal with this health care issue, see your primary care doctor. Your physician may also refer to a specialist depending on your personal situation. You can help control osteoarthritis pain by losing weight and exercising. Educating yourself about the possibilities of various care-related options is critical to understanding osteoarthritis, and how to manage your pain for a healthier, more enjoyable lifestyle.

Until next time.

1 comment:

tahera said...

Effective osteoarthritis treatment can help overcome pain. Osteoarthritis pain management is the key to a pain free life ahead.