Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. The breakdown of joint cartilage caused by osteoarthritis may affect any joint in your body. Joints affected may include:
- Lower back
At first osteoarthritis may affect only one joint, but if your fingers are affected, multiple hand joints may become arthritic.
There are available treatments for osteoarthritis, but no cure. The available treatments can relieve pain and help you remain active.
Some people may not experience symptoms because the disease often develops slowly. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis may include:
- Pain in a joint during or after use, or after a period of inactivity
- Discomfort in a joint before or during a change in the weather
- Swelling and stiffness in a joint, particularly after using it
- Bony lumps on the middle or end joints of your fingers or the base of your thumb
- Loss of joint flexibility
Areas in which osteoarthritis typically affects include:
- Fingers: Bony knobs can enlarge your finger joints and create a gnarled appearance. Early in the disease, your joints may feel painful or stiff and numb. The pain eventually often subsides, but leaves bony nodes that affect the mobility of the joints at the end of your fingers. The nodes run in families and affect women more than men.
- Spine: As the disk slowly deteriorate between the bones along your spine, back and neck pain and stiffness may occur.
- Weight-bearing joints: The hips, knees and feet are more susceptible to osteoarthritis because they bear the majority of your body's weight. Over the years cartilage slowly deteriorates and chronic pain or varying amounts of discomfort when you stand and walk can occur. Swelling especially in the knees may also occur.
Treatment for osteoarthritis
Your doctor may recommend a combination of treatment that includes medication, self-care, physical therapy and occupational therapy. Surgical procedures may also be necessary in some cases.
Medications may include:
- Topical pain relievers such as Aspercreme or Sportscreme, Icy Hot and Ben-Gay.
- Acetaminophen like Tylenol and others can relieve pain but does not reduce inflammation
- NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs work to relieve pain and fight inflammation. They range from OTC aspirin, ibuprofen like Advil, Motrin IB and others to prescription strength
- Cox-2inhibitors: Are considered as effective as other NSAIDs for managing pain and inflammation without the same stomach-damaging effects. Other side effects of Cox-2inhibitors may include fluid retention, exacerbating high blood pressure and links to increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Tramadol: Available only by prescription, has no anti-inflammatory effect, but can provide effective pain relief with fewer side effects such as stomach ulcers and bleeding. Tramadol may cause nausea and constipation. It is generally used for short-term treatment of acute flare-ups.
- Antidepressants: Tricyclics especially can help reduce chronic pain. They can treat sleep disturbances that can accompany arthritis. Some antidepressants used for arthritis pain and nonrestorative sleep include amitriptyline and nortriptyline.
- Injections of pain relievers: Corticosteroid injections into a joint space can offer some pain relief and reduce inflammation.
Surgical or other procedures used to treat osteoarthritis include:
- Joint replacement
- Arthroscopic lavage and debridement
- Repositioning bones
- Fusing bones
Source: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
Disclaimer: *This article is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any kind of a health problem. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Always consult with your health care provider about any kind of a health problem and especially before beginning any kind of an exercise routine.
This article is FREE to publish with the resource box. Article written 4-2007.