Do your joints hurt a lot when you try to move them? Are you unable to sleep well because of this pain? If you’ve neglected exercise and suffer from sensitive knees, you probably have osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a disease in which all of the joint structures have changed with respect to the cartilage, the capsule around the joint, and the muscles that connect the joint. The condition is degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. It often shows the softening and fragmentation of the cartilage and the narrowing of the joint space.
It is essential to understand that osteoarthritis is different from osteoporosis. While OA affects the joints, osteoporosis reduces bone mass, increasing the risk of fractures.
Symptoms and Potential Risks: A person who develops osteoarthritis may complain of joint pain and stiffness, limited movement of the affected joint, knot formation, and nighttime pain in cases of severe disease. Age is an important risk factor for developing osteoarthritis, with severe abnormalities in young adults (hip joint). Poor knee alignment (such as bent knees) can lead to bone damage.
Obesity is also a powerful risk factor for knee osteoarthritis, especially in women. People who perform repetitive tasks for many years are at high risk of developing osteoarthritis in the joints they use for such tasks. While it is more common in men under age 45, it is more common in women over age 55.
If you (or your loved one) suffer from osteoarthritis, here are some tips that can help reduce pain and disability:
Exercise: Lack of exercise and reduced mobility can be the cause of the excruciating pain in the knees and hips. Inactivity can also lead to complications in the cardiovascular system and muscle weakness. Exercise can help improve function and reduce pain. Aerobics and resistance training are highly recommended. This can help the person perform their daily tasks. Activities such as water aerobics should also be encouraged as their tolerance is higher.
Weight loss: As mentioned above, being overweight can also contribute to this disease, which can put additional strain on weight-bearing joints (such as the knee joint). Weight loss can be achieved by making positive lifestyle changes that are an amalgamation of proper exercise, diet and help.
Footwear: You can wear insoles in your shoes or some special shoes with adequate cushioning that can help reduce the pressure that is applied. Insoles can help distribute weight evenly. Doctors may recommend leg braces for this. Acupuncture may also be considered.
Pain relief: Pain relievers are often prescribed for osteoarthritis. These drugs may be non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They are mainly available in the form of creams and can be applied directly to painful joints. Hot and cold compresses are known to relieve pain by reducing inflammation and swelling.
Physiotherapy and occupational therapy can also offer a solution. It is essential to consult your doctor about the best course of action that is right for you.
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