Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease that affects the joints, causing pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of mobility in the affected joints. It is the most common form of arthritis and is characterised by the wearing away of the cartilage that lines the joints. It often develops with age, but can also be caused by injury or pre-existing joint disease.
Symptoms of OA include pain in the affected joints, especially after a period of inactivity, swelling, stiffness and difficulty moving the affected joints. The pain may be worse at the end of the day and may improve with movement. There may also be crackling or popping when moving the affected joints.
The main cause of OA is natural wear and tear of the cartilage that lines the joints due to use and time. However, other risk factors include obesity, previous joint injuries, metabolic diseases and genetics.
Treatment of OA focuses on relieving pain and improving mobility. Medications used include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), paracetamol and opioids. Physiotherapy can also be beneficial in improving mobility and strengthening the muscles around affected joints. Regular exercise, especially those that strengthen the muscles around the joints, may also be beneficial. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to improve the patient’s quality of life. It is important to work with a healthcare team to find the best treatment plan for each individual case.
In addition to medical treatments, there are lifestyle changes that can help relieve the symptoms of OA and slow the progression of the disease. These include:
- Controlling weight: Obesity can increase pressure on joints and worsen OA symptoms.
- Strengthen muscles: Strong muscles can help support and protect affected joints.
- Low-impact exercise: Exercises such as walking, swimming or cycling are excellent for improving mobility and reducing pain.
- Treat joint injuries: It is important to treat any joint injuries early to avoid further wear and tear.
- Dietary changes: A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can help strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.
It is important to work with a health care team to find the best treatment plan for each individual case. Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease and requires continuous monitoring and follow-up to avoid complications and improve the quality of life of those affected.
It is important to work with a healthcare team to find the best treatment plan for each individual case. Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease and requires continuous follow-up and support to avoid complications and improve the quality of life of those affected.