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The ABC’s of Osteoarthritis

The basics of Osteoarthritis

 

A: Arthritis in its many forms affects over 40 million people in the United States alone.


B: Bone growth can contribute to Osteoarthritis.  Abnormal bone development can cause the disease in both people and pets, such as hip dysplasia, bone spurs, and bone-on-bone grinding.


C: Cartilage degeneration and joint inflammation are the main causes of Osteoarthritis.  The breakdown of cartilage can cause the joint cavity to lose shape, function, and fluidity; creating a bone-on-bone effect.


D: Disability from arthritis related conditions are the leading cause of disability within the United States.


E: Exercise is very important for arthritis sufferers.  Inactivity can actually cause increased pain and stiffness.  Exercise helps to keep the joints flexible and the muscles strong.  Low impact exercises like yoga, swimming, walking, bicycling, and tai chi seem to be effective and preferred to other forms of exercise.


F: Fluid in the joints is called Synovial Fluid.  This fluid acts as a lubricating agent.  It provides cushioning to the joints, as well as vital nutrients.


G: Glucosamine is naturally found in the body and is a key component of the cellular matrix of cartilage.  It works in stimulating joint function and repair, easing pain, and renewing synovial fluid.  High quality liquid formulas provide the best results.


H: Heredity plays a role in Osteoarthritis.  There is a link to family history.  Osteoarthritis can be genetically passed down the family tree.


I: Inflammation, until recently, was thought to be a symptom of Rheumatoid Arthritis; not Osteoarthritis.  New research, however, has challenged this theory, and inflammation is now thought to be present in the affected joints of Osteoarthritis sufferers.


J: Joints commonly inflicted by Osteoarthritis are the weight bearing joints.  These consist of the hips, hands, knees, neck, and lower back.


K: Knee Osteoarthritis is the most common form of Osteoarthritis. It is the most common cause of disability in the United States, affecting over 10 million individuals.


L: Lifestyle decisions can play a role in the development of Osteoarthritis.  Repetitive motions, such as squatting down or jumping, can cause the joints to become instable from the overuse of the joint and the shock absorbing involved.  Injuries often lead to an arthritis diagnoses.  Being overweight puts extreme pressure on the weight bearing joints, and obesity almost always leads to painful, arthritic joints.


M: Medical costs for the average Osteoarthritis sufferer average $2,600 annually.


N: NSAID’s are commonly prescribed to battle the pain of Osteoarthritis; however, if taken long-term, they can pose severe health risks from the adverse side effects of the medication.  These side effects can include stomach bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea.


O: Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease where the cartilage breaks down and joints become instable.


P: Pain from Osteoarthritis is the symptom that is the most unwanted, and the symptom that usually sends people to visit their doctor’s office.  Pain is a signal that something is wrong, and those suffering are in search of answers and relief.  Pain can be managed through supplements, weight control, exercise, physical therapy, etc.


Q: Question your healthcare professional.  In recent studies, it has been shown that patients do not provide their physicians with enough information to accurately manage their arthritis symptoms, and their concerns.  Do not let your doctor rush you through you appointment.  Go prepared with a list of questions and any changes to your health.  Ask as many questions as you need, to feel comfortable and educated.


R: Rheumatologist’s are specialist of joint related conditions and diseases.  Your family doctor may refer you to a specialist to better diagnose your condition and to come up with a treatment plan.


S: Stiffness and swelling are symptoms commonly associated with Osteoarthritis.  These symptoms are usually more noticeable in the morning or after periods of rest.


T: Treatment of Osteoarthritis consists of managing the symptoms.  Many sufferers find that exercise, rest, medications/supplements, heat/cold compresses, and physical therapy are among the best sources of pain management.  Some people try holistic alternative therapies, such as acupuncture. 


U: Understand your diagnoses.  Research your condition and talk to others suffering from the disease.  This offers both knowledge and support.


V: Veterinarian visits are crucial for pets suffering from arthritis. Osteoarthritis is best managed when diagnosed as yearly as possible.  1 in 5 pets have Osteoarthritis. A trusted vet can ensure that your pet lives the happy life it deserves.


W: Weight control is vital to the health of your joints.


X: X-Rays and MRI’s are the most effective tests in diagnosing arthritis.  X-Rays use radiation to provide images that show any possible damage to the cartilage and bones. MRI’s testing uses magnetic fields to produce a two-dimensional detailed view of the soft tissues, cartilage, and bones.  Blood tests can also be evaluated to rule out other conditions.


Y: Yearly, or annual, check-ups should be held with your trusted healthcare professional.  It is important to write down any questions you may have, to describe you symptoms in great detail, and to provide them with any changes in your health.  Your doctor may want to see you more often the once a year, but you should definitely have at least an annual evaluation of your health.


Z: ZZZ’s are important.  Getting an adequate night sleep can help your body to replenish needed nutrients and may reduce stress.  Sleep has restorative healing powers.