Arthritis consists of more than 100 different conditions, which range from relatively mild forms of tendonitis and bursitis to crippling systemic forms, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The common denominator for all these conditions is joint and musculoskeletal pain, often as a result of an inflammation of the joint lining.
Critical to the outcome of the disease is an early diagnosis as it only gets progressively worse. And therapies work best when started as soon as possible.
• Over four million Canadian adults have arthritis, and the numbers continue to grow.
• By 2036 it’s estimated that almost one in five Canadian adults will have arthritis, an irreversible degeneration of the bone.
• Two out of three Canadians affected by arthritis are women
WHAT CAUSES OSTEOARTHRITIS?
Osteoarthritis starts when the cartilage, that tough elastic material that covers and protects the ends of bones that act as a cushion-like shock absorber, starts to break down and wear away. Joints become bigger as the body tries to heal itself, and bones begin to rub together, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. As we get older, our risk of developing osteoarthritis increases. Other risk factors include obesity, a previous joint injury and a genetic predisposition that researchers believe may have something to do with the shape of your bones and the way they fit together.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Understanding the signs and symptoms as well as treatment options can help to slow the progression of the disease which is an important step in living with Osteoarthritis:
Common signs and symptoms
• JOINT DEFORMITY
• JOINT INSTABILITY
• LIMITED RANGE OF MOTION
Treatments are divided into non-medical therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, bracing and splinting, education, weight loss and exercise. All of which can lead to improving function and biomechanics. Dietary supplements including chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine can be taken up to three times daily in doses of 400 mg and 500 mg respectively. While the medical evidence for these products is inconclusive, most rheumatologists do not feel they do harm and may, indeed, be helpful.
Depending on the severity, medical treatments may involve the use of acetaminophen anti-inflammatories (NAISD’s), topical non-steroidal naproxen, opioid analgesics such as codeine or morphine under careful doctor supervision. Joint injections with corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid for knee osteoarthritis can also be used. The most invasive option is joint replacement involves surgery.
Whatever your condition and treatment goals, it is important to heed the signs and symptoms and take action as soon as possible because osteoarthritis while not curable, is manageable, with the goal of keeping you active, engaged in activity, and pain free.
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