Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that is incredibly common, affecting over a quarter of a million Americans today. It generally occurs in senior citizens, especially in those over the age of 65. While some smart living tips can help individuals delay the onset of this disease or decrease their daily symptoms, it is typically impossible to prevent osteoarthritis entirely as it is tied to wear and tear on the joints.
Causes and Risk Factors
This disease is caused when the cartilage in the joints wears down over time, and bony pieces begin rubbing together. In addition, other connective tissues in the joints begin to break down, and most individuals deal with a moderate amount of joint inflammation.
Because osteoarthritis can worsen over time, it is important to get an early diagnosis and to begin treatments promptly. Diagnosis will rely on your own explanation of your discomfort as well as on objective assessments of any swelling and redness over your joints. Your doctor will most likely order X-rays and an MRI to determine if joints are missing connective tissues or if bony spurs could be causing pain. He may also order lab work and joint fluid analysis to rule out other possible causes of your discomfort.
Most of the time, the discomfort of osteoarthritis can be managed successfully at home with some smart self-care techniques and over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. If your pain worsens, your doctor may add Cymbalta, a prescription medication for chronic pain. You could also start an anti-inflammatory diet and lose weight if necessary to reduce pressure on your joints. In addition, physical therapy may be helpful in giving you exercises to relieve pain and improve flexibility. If these treatments do not provide enough help, your doctor may recommend injections in your joints or joint replacement surgery.