Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition of the joints that affects over 30 million Americans, and while it can occur at any age, the risk of developing OA increases with age. OA is caused by damage or breakdown of joint cartilage between bones. It is believed there is a hereditary component that predisposes some people to OA, and that being overweight can contribute to the severity and early onset of the disease.
Cartilage is the firm, rubbery tissue that lines the joints and allows them to move smoothly as well as cushion the bones. Stress placed on joints over the years wears away the cartilage causing stiffness, swelling, and pain. OA most commonly affects hips, knees, hands, feet, and spine but can affect any joint. Sports injuries and fractures can cause OA later on in life and certain jobs that are strenuous on joints (kneeling or standing for long periods of time) can put you at added risk.
While there is no cure for OA, it is treated with pain management, strengthening the muscles surrounding the joint, and reducing the weight on the joints. An occupational therapist can teach you ways to move to lessen the pain without adding more stress to the joint. A physical therapist will show you the exercises to do to strengthen your muscles and work to improve things like walking and posture. Some OA sufferers have turned to alternative therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, relaxation, and massage techniques.
This post is intended for informational purposes only. Please contact your health care provider with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.
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