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There are a couple different types of arthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis; the arthritis that we will cover in this article is Osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis; it affects over 27 million Americans. Osteoarthritis is referred to as the “wear & tear” arthritis. OA occurs over time, whereby the cartilage within the body joints begins to breakdown. Most commonly this happens in the knees, hips, elbows, wrist, shoulders, ankles spine as well as the hands and fingers. You can likely find OA in joints with a history of stress or injury.
They’re several symptoms of Osteoarthritis
OA occurs slowly over time. Many people experience joint aches that are in pain after exercising or engaging in some time of physical activity. During the progression of the disease a person will likely experience several of these symptoms.
- Joint Pain
- Joints experience swelling and tenderness.
- Stiffness after periods of inactivity, such as sleeping or sitting.
- Flares or flare ups of pain and inflammation that can affect the joint being used.
- Crepitus, which is a crunching feeling or sound of the bone rubbing against another bone when a specific joint is being used.
What parts of the body are affected by Osteoarthritis?
OA commonly affects the following areas of the body:
The Knees: OA affects the knees due primarily to the fact that the knees are responsible for bearing the weight of the body. There is a lot of pressure placed on the knee. IF you have OA within your knee, you may fell stiffness, swollenness and pain with the joints of your knees, when you need to walk, climb or get up from sitting in a chair or out of the bathtub.
The Hips: OA will cause stiffness, pain and severe disability in the hip, because the hip supports both the weight of the body and enables the movement of the lower body. When affected with OA in the hips you may feel pain in the groin, inner thighs or knees. This often leads to difficult getting around, walking or bending.
The fingers and Hands: OA usually affects the based of the thumb joint, people will experience aches, as well as, stiffness, numbness. These symptoms can be accompanied with Heberden’s nodes, which are small bony knobs that appear on the end joints of the fingers. Bocuhcard Nodes also appear, which are the same as Herbrdens nodes, but appear on the middle joints of the finger.
The Spine: OA in the spine will generate stiffness and pain in the lower back and neck. This placement of OA can cause changes within the spine that places pressure on nerves, numbing the arms and legs and causes your body to weaken.
The exact causes of OA are not quite know yet. It is understood that repeated usage of joints will cause natural “wear and tear”. OA could be triggered by an injury as well. Both of these cases can cause the cartilage of the bones to erode away. This will have several impacts on health of your bones and your ability to move around easily.
- The bone cartilage absorbs pressure and shocks so that the body can move easily.
- If the cartilage break down, then ends of the bone may think and the joint will lose it normal shape.
- The more cartilage that is broken down, the higher the possibility of bones rubbing together causing pain.
Once the joint tissue is damaged, it can release substances called prostaglandin, that causes pain and swelling.
There are some factors that increase your risk of developing OA:
Age is quite possibly the strongest factor in increasing the risk of OA, although there are cases of younger adults developing OA, these cases are primarily due to joint injury.
Gender is a risk factor that affects you based on age. The risk is higher for men before the age of 45 to develop OA and the risk is higher for women after the age of 45
If you injure or overuse your joint through physical labor or sports, you can likely develop OA. A traumatic injury to a joint will increase your risk as well as repeatedly using a joint.
Obesity can increase your chance of developing Osteoarthritis as the higher weight adds more pressure to the body joints to bear. This will significantly affect the knee, which is a major weigh-bearing joint.
If your received a joint alignment procedure. Such as having a dislocated shoulder, hip, or double jointedness, or bowlegs, you are more likely to develop OA within your joints.
Its also possible to inherit a defect in the genes that are responsible for manufacturing cartilage in the body, this can be a factor that contributes to a person developing OA.
If you are experiencing pain or any of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor to determine if you have Osteroarthritis. You doctor will ask you question about what symptoms you have, when and how you started to experience them. Your physician will likely give you a physical exam to check your general health and examine the joints that are being affected.
Test such as Xrays can also help your physician to determine whether you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or OA. The x rays will be taken over time to help measure the rate of progression for joint damage. X rays will also show the cartilage loss and extra bone growth or bone spurs. After testing, and your physician is still unsure, you may need a joint aspiration, in which an infection may be detected. This requires your doctor to withdraw synovial fluid, which lubricates the joint, to further exam what is happening to the joint.