Understanding Osteoarthritis

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For many, when the term Arthritis is used, they think of it as only a single disease, but there are in reality over 100 different kinds of arthritis. Even though there are a lot of different kinds of arthritis, 10% of these make up most of all diagnosed cases. The most common kind of arthritis is osteoarthritis.

Arthritis, which is an inflammatory joint disease, can be very painful and osteoarthritis is no exception. Osteoarthritis, which is more common among elders, develops when cartilage in the joint begins to break down.

Cartilage is a sort of padding that is found in between our joints and prevents our bones from rubbing directly together. In osteoarthritis, this cartilage wears down or deteriorates, which results in the bones rubbing together. Sometimes, small bone shards will break off as the bones rub together, which can be very painful. It is also common for bone growths, named osteophytes, to begin to appear. In many cases, the inflammation caused by osteoarthritis will actually result in the more rapid destruction of the cartilage.

Even though osteoarthritis is more common among the elderly, it can be found in people of any age. However, it is estimated that if an X-ray was taken of every person over the age of 70, approximately 70% would show signs of osteoarthritis. However, even though many older adults have osteoarthritis, the symptoms are not always present.

Usually, an X-ray is used to diagnose osteoarthritis, in combination with the onset of osteoarthritis symptoms. It is also common for a doctor to preform tests to eliminate the other more common types of arthritis, which is referred to as the process of diagnosis by elimination.

One of the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis is joint pain in the morning, which goes away after a short period of time, only to return much worse at night. It is also common for the joint pain to be accompanied by joint stiffness. Physical activities or remaining immobile can also bring about joint discomfort and stiffness. An overall limited range of movement and reduced mobility are also common. In addition to joint discomfort, crepitus, which is a crackling noise, often is found among those who suffer from osteoarthritis.

There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of osteoarthritis developing, with age being one of the main risk factors. However, gender, family lines, obesity, and certain lines of work can also increase the risk of osteoarthritis. While females are more likely to develop osteoarthritis, among people less than 55 years in age, osteoarthritis is actually more common among men.

If the osteoarthritis is diagnosed in time, it can be treated and the effects limited, however there is no cure for osteoarthritis. Common treatment involves increased low impact exercise, a healthy diet, and weight control. There are also a number of medications available that can treat osteoarthritis. The main goal of this treatment is to maintain the level of mobility that the individual currently has, with hopes that this mobility can be increased.

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