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Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints which causes inflammation and pain. This occurs when the cartilage gets worn out and broken down, and this affects the joints as the cartilage is the material that is responsible for cushioning the joints. As it wears out, the bones get more exposed and pain results from basic human activities such as walking, standing, and holding any weight. Osteoarthritis usually affects the knees, hips, hands, spine and feet, which causes patients suffering from osteoarthritis to have limited mobility.
Information you should know
Osteoarthritis is a very common disease; it affects more than 20 million people in the United States every year. Although persons at any age can get osteoarthritis, it is more dominant with the aging population, usually those 60 years old and above. Women are more at risk than men, as they usually get osteoarthritis during or after menopause, and studies suggest that menopause and hormones are factors for this.
There are many risk factors and possible causes for osteoarthritis. Age is the most prevalent and dominant factor related to osteoarthritis. Aging causes the protein in the cartilage to decrease, at the same time the water content increasing, causing overall degeneration of the cartilage.
Obesity is also another factor, because osteoarthritis also occurs in weight bearing joints such as the knee and hips. Heredity is also another factor involved, because studies have shown that members of the same family have acquired osteoarthritis and that a gene deficiency is also a contributing risk to the wearing out of the cartilage.
However, the warning signs for osteoarthritis are what you should watch out for. If you feel stiffness in a joint area after immobility for a long period of such as sitting down or lying down, that is one of the symptoms. Other symptoms and warning signs include sharp pains, crunching sounds when the bones rub together, immobility, and muscle spasms. If you experience any of these, it is best to see your doctor so tests can be done and treatment can be administered right away.
What you can do to prevent osteoarthritis
There are many things you can do to prevent osteoarthritis. Here are a few tips:
1. Exercise to keep your ideal weight. Exercise reduces the amount of stress on weight bearing joints, and thus reduces your risks. The constant movement also strengthens your bones and muscles, and this is important in preventing the wearing of cartilage.
2. Awareness of pain in joints. Being aware of symptoms and early medication can decrease chances of more severe pain in the future.
3. Do strengthening exercises and agility exercises, especially for the neck and back.