Osteoarthritis is one of the most common joint diseases which is due to infection or degenerative changes. This joint disease mostly affects middle-age to elderly people. It is commonly referred to as OA or as "wear and tear" of the joints, but we now know that OA is a disease of the entire joint, involving the cartilage, joint lining, ligaments, and bone. Approximately 80-90% of individuals older than 65 years have evidence of primary osteoarthritis
When bone surfaces become less well protected by cartilage, bone may be exposed and damaged. As a result of decreased movement secondary to pain, regional muscles may atrophy, and ligaments may become more lax.
What cause OA?
The stresses applied to the joints, especially the weight-bearing joints like ankle, knee and hip joints play an important role in the development of osteoarthritis.
If the cartilage breaks down and wears away, the bones rub together. This causes pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Risk Factors for OA
· Obesity (increases mechanical stress)
· Sex hormones
· Repetitive use (ie, jobs requiring heavy labor and bending)
· Muscle weakness
· Crystal deposition
· Heritable metabolic causes (eg, alkaptonuria, hemochromatosis, Wilson disease)
· Previous rheumatoid arthritis (ie, burnt-out rheumatoid arthritis)
· Underlying orthopedic disorders (eg, congenital hip dislocation, slipped femoral capital epiphysis)
· Hemoglobinopathies (eg, sickle cell disease, thalassemia)
· Neuropathic disorder leading to a Charcot joint (eg, syringomyelia, tabes dorsalis, diabetes)
· Disorders of bone (eg, Paget disease, avascular necrosis)
What are the Symptoms of OA?
· Knobby swelling at the joint
· Joint pain and stiffness
· Cracking or grinding noise with joint movement (cripitus)
· Decreased function of the joint
Malalignment with a bony enlargement (depending on the disease’s severity) may occur. Most cases of osteoarthritis do not involve erythema or warmth over the affected joint(s); however, an effusion may be present. Limitation of joint motion or muscle atrophy around a more severely affected joint may occur.
Heberden nodes, which represent palpable osteophytes in the DIP joints (Distal interphalangeal joint), are characteristic in women but not in men. Inflammatory changes are typically absent or at least not pronounced.
How to Diagnose OA?
Your doctor can detect OA based on the symptoms explained above. To make it clear and differentiate, doctor may need X-ray, CBC, RA factor, Synovial fluid biopsy, MRI, Anti CCP and CRP etc.
Management of OA
Usually NSAID (None steroid Anti-inflammatory Drugs) are used to treat the pain like Ibuprofen. You should consult your physician to select your medication. Long term use of anti-inflammatory drugs will damage your kidney, So use it when necessary.
You can support your joint with the muscles surrounded by it. For that you have to strengthen those muscles first by exercises. Exercise will be painful in first few days.
Exercises for OA
· Water therapy. When doing exercises in a pool, the water provides enough resistance to help build strength but it also stabilizes the body in a way that open-air exercise cannot.Swimming and walking in a pool can help to strengthen your muscles.
· Exercise walking or using a treadmill, stationary biking, or using an elliptical trainer are all relatively low-impact forms of exercise that primarily provide cardiovascular benefits, meaning that they provide a good workout for the heart, lungs and burn calories. For those with osteoarthritis pain, these forms of exercise provide a good aerobic workout with relatively little stress on the joints. Stationary biking and the elliptical trainer cause less stress on the spine than walking or using a treadmill.
For OA in knees , take a pillow and squeeze and release it with both knees for 10 minutes
Straight Leg Raise
Lie on the floor, upper body supported by your elbows. Bend your left knee, foot on the floor. Keep the right leg straight, toes pointed up. Slowly use your thigh muscles, not your back, to raise your right leg.
Pause for five seconds. With the thigh muscles still tight, slowly lower your leg to the ground. Relax. Repeat 10 times. Rest. Do another set of 10 lifts; then switch legs.
Walking; Even if you have stiff or sore knees, walking is still one of the best exercises for knee arthritis. Start slow and keep at it. Walking can reduce joint pain, strengthen leg muscles, and improve flexibility. It's also good for your heart.