While there are different forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis is considered the most common.
Affecting millions of people the world over, osteoarthritis happens when the protective cartilage found at the end of the bones wears down.
Although this condition can damage any joint in the body, it is often known to affect the joints found in the spine, hips, knees, and hands.
Fortunately, osteoarthritis symptoms can be managed effectively but the underlying process can no longer be reversed.
What are the common symptoms of osteoarthritis?
Below are typical signs to look out for:
- Tenderness – you will feel tenderness in your joint when you apply even just a slight pressure on it.
- Pain – you will feel joint pain during and after movement.
- Flexibility loss – you will likely find that you are no longer able to move your joints as much as you used to.
- Stiffness – you will experience joint stiffness especially when you wake up in the morning or when you are sedentary for a long period.
- Bone spurs – you will notice extra bits of bone (they would feel like hard lumps when touched), forming around the affected joint.
- Grating sensation – you will feel or hear a grating sensation when you use the affected joint.
If you have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, below are some ways to effectively manage the disease.
There are two effective yet simple ways to protect your joints. And these ways don’t even need a prescription:
- Lose the excess pounds. Getting rid of the extra weight will not only spare you from a wide array of medical conditions, it can also effectively take pressure off your joints.
While there is no such thing as an “osteoarthritis diet,” generally, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats would be recommended.
- Make time for regular exercise. Incorporating regular exercise in your daily routine will not only help you effectively reach your ideal weight, it is also good for your joints.
Fortunately, there are plenty of exercise options that are available to help you strengthen the muscles on your joints. Biking, yoga, hiking, and swimming are just some of the alternatives that are easy on your body but helpful when it comes to strengthening your joints.
Patients with osteoarthritis are often given nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs to alleviate the pain. Known NSAIDs include naproxen, aspirin, and ibuprofen. The aforementioned medications are available over the counter. However, you would need a prescription if you are to purchase stronger NSAIDs.
To play safe, it would be best to check with your doctor first as opposed to just picking the medications you think would be right for you. NSAIDs can come with unwanted side effects such as increased risk for cardiovascular problems like strokes and heart attacks and can also cause stomach bleeding.
Gels or creams can also be rubbed on the affected joints. Your effective topical cream options include:
- Capsaicin – This cream is deemed efficient when it comes to relieving pain caused by osteoarthritis. Capsaicin works by affecting the release of substance P—the one tasked to transmit the sensation of pain.
- Diclofenac – NSAIDs also come in topical cream form and Diclofenac is a classic example. However you can only purchase Diclofenac if you have a prescription. In addition, your liver function will need to be monitored 4 to 8 weeks after starting treatment so possible side effects are detected early.
- Other products with menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus can also help ease osteoarthritis pain.
The good news—most cases of osteoarthritis will not require surgery. However, if the stiffness and the pain become unbearable, surgery will be recommended.
Fortunately, apart from relieving pain, surgery can enhance joint movement and can improve joint alignment.
While osteoarthritis is classified as a degenerative disease that has the possibility to worsen over time, it is reassuring to know there are plenty of options you can employ to ease the pain and make the condition tolerable at the very least.