Osteoarthritis is the most familiar form of arthritis that can affect any joint of the body. It usually influences the load-bearing joints such as the hip, knees and ankles. Load-bearing joints are the joints that hold the weight of other parts of your body. Osteoarthritis is commonly caused due to the overuse of certain joints. For example, hands are the most used part of the body. That’s why it is very common to have osteoarthritis in your wrist and elbow joints.
In any joint of the body, the top layer of the bone is quite strong, and the cartilage (a smooth tissue that covers the bones) helps the bones with flexibility. When a joint gets affected with osteoarthritis, the cartilage over those bones fades away, causing the bones to rub each other. It makes the movements difficult and painful. When cartilage over the bones gets worn out, the tissues in the affected joints start working harder than usual to mend the damages caused to it. Although the mending process might alter the joint structure, it will not limit the movement and usually won’t even cause pain and swelling.
The risk of osteoarthritis increases with age, and most people aren’t even aware of a bad joint (affected with osteoarthritis) in their body. Therefore, it is possible that the mending process might not always go that well, resulting in pain, swelling and bruising.
Osteoarthritis develops in the body quite slowly. But the symptoms will get worse over time. Here are a few signs of osteoarthritis:
- Stiff Joints: You will feel stiffness in your affected joints when you wake up in the morning.
- Pliability: You will not have a complete range of movements due to the pain.
- Bits of bones: You might feel little bits of bone around the affected joints.
- Pain: You might feel mild to excruciating pain depending upon the extent of the condition.
- Tender Joints: You will feel a little tender around the afflicted joint when you apply a little pressure around it.
- Joints Rubbing: You will feel a rubbing sensation in your joints because of the faded cartilages.
- Swelling: The soft tissues around the joint might get bruised and swollen.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consulting with a doctor would be the best decision for you. They would be able to provide you with an appropriate treatment based on the symptoms and the extent of the condition.
The primary cause of osteoarthritis is the deterioration of the soft tissues of cartilage, due to which the bones in the joint rub on each other. The cartilage tissue allows the bones to have a better and flexible range of motion.
Finally, the cartilage tissues fade away completely, and the bones start rubbing each other. That is why it is often referred to as wear-and-tear arthritis. It does not just affect the cartilage but the whole joint. It causes deterioration in the tissues that connect the bones in a joint, thereby disturbing the entire structure.
Although there are not many causes of osteoarthritis, there are various risk factors that might increase the risk of this condition, including:
- Gender: Although anyone can be afflicted with osteoarthritis, women are more at risk for this medical condition.
- Injuries: It might be a result of a recent joint injury due to sports or an accident. Even if the damage had occurred years ago, it still might pose a risk of osteoarthritis.
- Genetics: Genetics play a significant role in several prevalent medical conditions, including osteoarthritis.
- Age: Age plays a crucial role in every type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis condition may get worse with age.
- Obesity: The more you weigh, the greater the risk of osteoarthritis. Also, the weight adds to the stress on the load-bearing joints like knees, ankles, hips, etc., increasing the wear-and-tear.
There are several other risks causing factors that might differ from person to person. But the root cause of osteoarthritis will be determined only after a thorough consultation with the doctor.
In addition to lab tests and imaging tests, your doctor may conduct other tests to determine the cause of your symptoms and the possible results. Here are a few tests that might be conducted to diagnose osteoarthritis:
- Joint Fluid Analysis: In this test, the doctor draws the fluid out of the affected joint and analyses it to check if the pain is due to infection and gout or osteoarthritis.
- Blood Test: A blood test will not be able to tell you if osteoarthritis is the cause. But it will be able to rule out the other causes of pain.
- MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a prevalent imaging diagnostic test that uses radio waves to generate detailed images to determine the root cause regarding soft tissues like cartilages. It is not necessarily required to diagnose osteoarthritis.
- X-Ray: X-rays can’t show the cartilages, but the doctor will be able to notice any significant gaps between the bones in the joint due to the deterioration of connective tissues.
Osteoarthritis gets worse with age as the cartilages continue to deteriorate. So you would need to consult with the doctor and have a diagnostic test as soon as possible.
Osteoarthritis, as mentioned earlier, is a continuously worsening condition with no treatment. But there are certain techniques that can help alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Homeopathy is an alternative medical science that treats medical conditions with the help of natural remedies. According to the principles of homeopathy, the body treats itself. It will provide you with relief for individual symptoms. Homeopathy helps you treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis without the side effects of traditional medications.
Here are a few techniques that can help you relieve the symptoms while practised along with Homeopathy medicines:
- Physical Therapy: Opt for physiotherapy that can help you achieve the flexibility of the affected joints and alleviate the pain. A physiotherapist will show you the proper exercises for the same.
- Occupational Therapy: You can take the help of an occupational therapist to learn effective ways to conclude your daily tasks without putting added stress on your joints.
- Weight loss: Losing weight will help you reduce the stress on the load-bearing joints of your body, including knees, ankles, hips, etc., preventing and controlling the condition.
If you are looking to have further information about osteoarthritis or want to have proper treatment for this medical condition, consult with a doctor at the earliest. It would ensure that the symptoms are treated in their earlier stages.