Impacting 30 million people in the United States alone, osteoarthritis is a debilitating and painful condition that results because of the wearing away of cartilage, leading to friction in the joints as unprotected bones rub against each other. Even though it can happen in almost any joint, it’s most prevalent in the hands, hips, knees, lower back, and neck.
Given that it’s so prevalent, it is essential for everyone to know the basics of osteoarthritis and what to do in the event that you or someone you love is diagnosed. The following important information can help.
- What causes osteoarthritis? While a precise cause is not known, it most frequently strikes older adults and those whose bodies are not able to fix joint tissue.
- Am I at an increased risk? There are specific risk factors:
- Age (most typical in those over age 40)
- Trauma or overuse of a joint
- Gender (more prevalent in females than males)
- Occupation (individuals carrying out repetitive tasks)
- Certain medical conditions (for example: other forms of arthritis, joint or cartilage abnormalities, misalignment of the ankle, knee, or hip, bone diseases)
- What are the symptoms? At the start, there may be no noticeable symptoms, but as osteoarthritis advances, signs might include stiffness, swelling, and pain that is more severe when the joint has been at rest for some time, in addition to tenderness, warmth, and trouble moving the joint, and/or a cracking sound once the joint is moved.
- How will a doctor diagnose osteoarthritis? The physician’s assessment will include tests to exclude other potential causes for the pain and swelling inherent in osteoarthritis, including x-rays, MRIs, blood and joint fluid tests.
- What treatment options are available? Even though there’s no cure or treatment to reverse the damage caused by osteoarthritis, symptoms can be relieved through pain medicines, physical therapy and exercise, lifestyle adjustments, assistive devices, and/or surgery.
- Can supplements help? While some studies have shown that individuals with inadequate intake of vitamins C, D and K may be at an increased risk of being diagnosed with osteoarthritis, the American College of Rheumatology has discovered that taking supplements of these vitamins, as well as calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, has not been confirmed to be safe or effective. It is important to always check with the doctor prior to taking any supplements.
- Help with light housework, laundry, and various other activities which could be challenging or result in pain
- Planning and preparing healthy, nutritious meals
- Providing inspiration and confidence to participate in physician-recommended exercises
- Offering transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and procedures
- Picking up prescriptions, grocery shopping, and running other errands
- And many others
Give us a call at 410-357-9640 for additional helpful resources related to osteoarthritis or other conditions common to aging, and to request a free in-home consultation for more details on how our highly skilled, fully trained and experienced care staff can enhance wellbeing for an older adult you love in Towson and the surrounding communities.