Understanding Osteoarthritis

Here’s a breakdown of what happens with osteoarthritis:
Cartilage Breakdown: The smooth, cushiony tissue that normally protects the ends of your bones within a joint starts to wear away.
Underlying Bone Changes: As the cartilage breaks down, the underlying bones can become exposed, rub together, and develop bony growths (spurs).
Joint Inflammation: This breakdown and friction can irritate the lining of the joint, leading to inflammation, pain, and stiffness.
OA can affect any joint in your body, but it most commonly targets:
Hands (especially at the base of the thumb and the ends of the fingers)
Knees
Hips
Lower back
Neck
While osteoarthritis is often associated with aging, it’s not an inevitable part of getting older. Certain factors can increase your risk of developing it, including:
Age: The risk increases as you get older.
Being overweight or obese: Extra weight puts extra stress on your joints, especially weight-bearing joints like your knees and hips.
Previous joint injury: Injuries, such as a torn ligament or meniscus, can damage the joint and increase the risk of OA later in life.
Repetitive movements: Jobs or activities that involve repetitive movements of a particular joint can also increase your risk.
Family history: If you have a close relative with OA, you may be more likely to develop it.
If you’re experiencing joint pain, stiffness, or swelling, it’s important to see a doctor to get a diagnosis and discuss treatment options. There’s no cure for OA, but there are ways to manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life. These can include:
Exercise: Maintaining physical activity can help strengthen the muscles around the joint and improve flexibility.
Weight management: Losing weight can take pressure off your joints and reduce pain.
Pain medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications can help manage pain and inflammation.
Physical therapy: A physical therapist can teach you exercises and stretches to improve joint function and reduce pain.
Joint injections: Injections of corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid can help reduce inflammation and pain.
Surgery: In some severe cases, surgery may be an option to repair or replace a damaged joint.

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