As you age, you often experience wear and tear on your joints. This wear and tear can lead to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. If you think you have osteoarthritis or have been recently diagnosed, ask your doctor the following questions.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic joint condition currently affecting over 27 million Americans. Most of them are over the age of 651. The most common osteoarthritis-affected joints are the
- lower back,
- neck, and
- small joints in the fingers and toes1.
A normal joint is protected and cushioned by a rubbery cartilage that assists comfortable joint movement1. A joint affected by OA has lost its cartilage, which causes pain and swelling because bones begin to rub against each other1.
What are the causes of Osteoarthritis?
Unfortunately, one of the major causes of OA is your genetics. If your parents and grandparents have osteoarthritis, there is a higher chance you will as well2. Even though OA develops over time, there are certain factors linked to its development2:
- Joint injuries
- Genetic defects in joint cartilage, and
- Stress on joints from various activities like sports, physical labor, kneeling, and squatting3.
What are the stages of Osteoarthritis?
Early Stage: The first signs of osteoarthritis happen when the cartilage wrapped around the bones beings to wear down as it thins out. When the bones underneath the cartilage begin to suffer from friction, the cartilage will start to wear down. This is typically due to old age4.
Moderate Stage: As the cartilage wears down, the bones underneath become thicker. In addition, bony spurs form around the joint area4. Physical activity becomes limited due to weaker muscles which then provide less support for your already worn out joints4.
Late Stage: In this stage, all the lubrication in the joints is lost. The joints affected begin to fill with inflammatory fluids. There is also more swelling, more stiffness, and more pain4.
How can I treat it?
Sadly, osteoarthritis is a progressive disease that has no cure yet4. During the early stages, you start to feel the pain, which can easily be treated with some simple rest4. The moderate stage includes more pain that needs more than rest. At this point, some medication—nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories are the most common drug prescribed—can help ease the pain4. Osteoarthritis can be alleviated with a combination of
- rest, and
- weight control.
At some point, joint replacement surgery is a good option to help ease the pain4.
However, though no end-all treatment exists, nutrition plays a major role in living with OA. Taking a supplement can help lubricate your joints, reduce swelling, pain, and limited movement. Two main nutrients needed for optimal joint health are glucosamine and chondroitin. However, your joints require other nutrients as well. These may include MSM, Sam-E, vitamin C, and manganese. Talk to your doctor about taking a joint-focused supplement.