Osteo arthritis is the most common type of this pain-inducing disease and occurs as a natural part of the aging process, at least for those who suffer from this ailment. It gradually progresses over the course of your life, though injury can increase the rate of deterioration, and researchers have yet to find a cure. The main goal of arthritis treatment is to control flare-ups, reduce swelling and minimize pain, all of which are possible through various actions.
Throughout the course of life, your entire body develops, reaches its peak and then slowly begins to unravel on the inside and out, causing any number of health problems. Osteo arthritis is among the diseases that can occur from this natural progression and results when the cartilage at the end of joint bones begins to deteriorate.
This loss of cartilage means the joints have less cushioning so the bones begin to rub against each other, a pressurized grinding that leads to swelling, inflammation and ultimately, pain.
Prior to the full onset of osteo arthritis, you may experience a number of symptoms that can occur individually, together, consistently or sporadically. Since the tenderness, lack of flexibility, stiffness and pain may come and go, you may think nothing of it, thus allowing the disease to progress.
As the deterioration continues, your symptoms become worse and may now include extra pieces of bone around the affected area, a condition known as bone spurs, and the feel or sound of grating when you move the ailing joint.
The treatments for osteo arthritis are many and can range from traditional pain management to old folk remedies to holistic healing. Depending on your overall health, severity of your condition, personal beliefs and discussions with your health care provider, more than one type of treatment may be in your treatment plan.
For instance, if you are in the early stages of arthritis and your focus is pain management, you may opt for heating pads and Tylenol. If the pain, swelling and other symptoms are more severe, narcotics, prescription Motrin and physical therapy could be the preferred methods of treatment.
In some cases, more aggressive remedies, such as surgery, lubrication shots or steroid injections might be the best route to improve everyday living.
For more natural remedies, you can opt to rest when in pain, exercise to strengthen and stabilize joints, use assistive devices to alleviate weight and pressure or turn to splints for extra support. You can also choose to stay active and keep your body limber by engaging in yoga or tai chi, improve circulation through massage, alleviate pressure via acupuncture or eat a healthier variety of foods.
Some people believe glucosamine and chondroitin supplements minimize their symptoms but scientific evidence is inconclusive and though natural, you should avoid these products if you are taking blood thinners or have an allergy to shellfish.
Lastly, despite being a physical condition, arthritis can influence your mental and emotional well-being, causing you to feel depressed, overwhelmed, anxious, hopeless or frustrated. It is important to know that you are not alone, as support groups do exist, and that the pain is manageable.
Adapting to change is never easy but if you maintain a positive outlook and are proactive in your treatment, you can continue to live an active life with little to no interference in your normal daily activities.
Although a cure does not currently exist for osteo arthritis, science is getting closer and pain management is improving, which means you can live your life the way you want and enjoy it. If you keep an open mind and try various regimens, whether scientific or holistic, you can improve your success at managing your arthritis pain and discover the methods that work best for you.
Just remember to always consult your primary care provider first and avoid any activities that are strenuous or that could potentially worsen your arthritis symptoms.
Joints Commonly Affected by Osteo-type Arthritis
Knee Arthritis - occurs when the cartilage of the knee wears away and the bones begin to rub against each other causing pain and swelling.
Hip Arthritis - The pain from arthritis ranges from mild pain that you can treat with ice packs to severe debilitating pain that surgical replacement of the hip joint is the only option.
Spinal Arthritis - cause spinal stenosis, which narrows the spinal canal causing loss of bowel and bladder control, nervous system damage and impaired mobility.
Hand Arthritis - often result in a reduced quality of life and increase feelings of anxiety, depression or frustration.
Foot Arthritis - Certain activities, lack of rest or treatment and no supportive devices can enhance any or all of these symptoms.